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MNA made focal person on polio

November 30, 2013


ISLAMABAD, Nov 29: The Prime Minister Office on Thursday refused to give assent to a summery, seeking health minister as prime minister’s focal person on polio eradication, and instead nominated an MNA for the job.

The summery was sent by the Ministry of National Health Services (MNHS).

A notification landed in the ministry on Friday which said that member National Assembly Ayesha Raza Farooq had been nominated as focal person on polio eradication.

However subject of the notification is: “Nomination of Ms Saira Afzal Tarar as Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication”.

MNHS had moved a summery (available with Dawn) to PM Office on October 9, 2013, through which it stated that ministry has been working hard to eradicate polio from the country and it requested to nominate Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar as focal person.

It was further stated that Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar in her capacity as Minister will be able to effectively perform the job as the position is required to coordinate with the governors, chief ministers and political leaders besides reporting periodically to the prime minister and guiding the National Task Force on Polio Eradication.

To the embarrassment of the ministry, a notification, while ignoring the minister, nominated an MNA for the job, putting serious question mark on the performance of the minister.

An officer of the ministry, requesting not to be identified, after the devolution the health ministry had less workload, giving it ample time to focus on Extended Programme of Immunization (EPI) in which polio was at the top of the list.

“One of the main reasons for the no-confidence in the minister was absence of national coordinator and all (four) provincial managers on the polio during the campaign as they were out of the country,” he said.

“The ministry tried to cover the issue by saying that dates for the campaign were changed which disturbed all programmes and polio managers had to attend a meeting on measles in Jordan,” he said.

The notification has also put national coordinator of PM polio cell, Dr Rana Safdar, into trouble because MNA Ayesha Raza Farooq may remove him and prepare her own team.

Minister for Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar while talking to Dawn said that the prime minister had personally instructed her to move a summery for her nomination as Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication.

“I moved the summery but because I am preoccupied with so many other issues of health sector I requested Javaid Aslam, Secretary to the PM, not to nominate her for the job. So Ayesha Raza Farooq has been nominated as focal person,” she said.

Replying to a question that when she was not interested in the job then why she had moved the summery, she said that she followed orders of the prime minister.

While replying to a question about Dr Safdar, Ms Tarar said that he (Mr Safdar) will continue working as Manager Extended Programme of Immunization (EPI).