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70 workers in Khyber refuse to administer polio vaccine

Updated January 11, 2014


— File photo
— File photo

LANDI KOTAL: As many as 70 ‘front-line health workers’ in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency have refused to take part in a three-day polio vaccination campaign beginning in the region on Saturday, citing security concerns.

The refusal came only two days after Agency Surgeon Dr Rehman announced end of a boycott and told reporters that the delayed campaign would be launched on Saturday in Jamrud and Landi Kotal.

Haji Sadeeq, a spokesman for the 70 health workers, told Dawn that the circumstances, especially in Jamrud, were not favourable for his colleagues to take part in the campaign.

“We feel threatened and everyone is frightened after the killing of our colleagues last month.”

He said it was not possible for the health workers to conduct the door-to-door campaign because of the presence of militants in parts of Jamrud.

Sadeeq said they were even ready to sacrifice their jobs if they were forced to conduct the vaccination.

A member of the local paramedics association said none of the ‘front-line workers’ had been consulted when their office-bearers announced ending the boycott on Wednesday.

He said the Khasadar and Levies personnel themselves were targets and their presence during the vaccination would make them more vulnerable to militant attacks.

Health officials expected that over 50,000 children below the age of five would be vaccinated against polio in Jamrud.

Officials in Landi Kotal were, however, confident that the health workers would participate in the campaign because a ‘special’ security plan had been prepared by the health department.