Terror threats delay anti-polio drive again - Pakistan Today

Terror threats delay anti-polio drive again

The anti-polio vaccination campaign scheduled to start in Peshawar on Sunday was postponed once again due to incomplete security arrangements and threats from the terrorists.
Peshawar Extended Programme on Immunisation of Polio Coordinator Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah said that proper arrangements for the drive were not in place due to which the campaign would not kick off as per earlier announcement. He declined to further comment or elaborate on the issue.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Health Department sources said the drive was expected to begin next week now and around 800,000 children will be administered the anti-polio vaccine, during the drive.
Earlier, the KP health authorities had requested the Education Department to help carry out the campaign through teachers, following attacks on polio workers and killing of security personnel, but the teachers refused to undertake training for the vaccination and participate in the drive, citing low wages and security concerns as the reasons. However, on Saturday, over 9,000 teachers of the province agreed to kick start the campaign after holding successful negotiations with the government.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. Efforts to eradicate it have been seriously hampered by the deadly targeting of vaccination teams in recent years.
Terrorist groups see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage, and there are also long running rumours about polio drops causing infertility.
There was a rise in the number of polio cases detected in the province and particularly in Peshawar in 2013 as compared to 2012.
At least one case of the crippling virus has been discovered in the province so far this year.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on January 17 had declared Peshawar as the world’s “largest reservoir” of endemic polio and called for urgent action to boost vaccination.

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