Thursday 23 January 2020
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Four polio cases reported in KP: Govt set to launch three-day anti-polio drive today

PESHAWAR: Despite utilising all available options for polio eradication, the crippling disease paralysed four more children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the total number of cases to 98 in Pakistan and 72 in the province.The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) in Peshawar on Thursday confirmed the latest four polio cases. Three were reported from Lakki Marwat and one from the adjoining Tank district.The government is set to launch a three-day anti-polio campaign in the province today (Friday). Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz would launch the polio eradication campaign by administering anti-polio vaccines to children at the Police Hospital in Peshawar.The National Institute of Health (NIH) laboratory in Islamabad has isolated wild poliovirus from stool samples of three-month boy and 11-month girl of Sarai Naurang Tehsil and 11-month old girl from Deratang union council in Lakki Marwat district and 12-month female child from Waraspoon union council of Tank district.The EOC officials, while quoting parents of the three affected children in Lakki Marwat, claimed that none of them had essential immunisation or polio vaccine administered in recent month.However, the child diagnosed with polio in Tank has had three doses of routine immunisation, but not IPV.The southern districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have become the most difficult places for health workers engaged in the fight against polio.In KP, Bannu district with 24 polio cases is on top, followed by Lakki Marwat with 22.According to official sources and health workers, millions of rupees had been spent just for creating awareness among the parents, mostly illiterate, regarding polio. Unfortunately, our months of efforts with the community were wasted by baseless propaganda of illiterate people having limited religious knowledge. People should think who the enemy of their children is, said an official of the polio programme.Pleading anonymity, he said refusals based on misconceptions were one of the major problems they had been facing in the province, particularly in the southern districts.Hundreds of social mobilisers hired to counter propaganda against polio had not been able to achieve visible progress.They are highly paid and mostly belong to the same community. The idea of hiring social mobilisers was to effectively counter malicious propaganda against polio vaccination. There are certain misconceptions in minds of the parents. Some suspect it is a Western agenda to make their children sterile by administering them polio vaccines. Other suspect that by conducting polio campaign, the western world wanted to collect information about Pakistan and its people, said the official.According to officials of the polio programme, blunders were committed in the past by lavishly wasting precious resources on a religious group of a particular school of thought, saying it created more problems than solving the problem of refusals and misconception.They said that rival religious groups started spreading rumours against the polio programme.Also, officials of the programme believe that the fake campaign conducted by Dr Shakil Afridi in Abbottabad to help the American CIA reach al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011 caused irreparable loss to all the immunisation initiatives in Pakistan.Though Dr Shakil Afridi had conducted the fake campaign for hepatitis, it was reported initially that he had used polio drive to trace bin Laden and his family.


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