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India warns against ‘fake polio certificates’

October 09, 2014

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.— Dawn file photo
.— Dawn file photo

ISLAMABAD: The High Commission of India, which has declared polio vaccination mandatory for Pakistanis submitting visa applications, has alleged that a number of applicants have filed “fake certificates” in this regard.

The commission has been rejecting the applications submitted with such certificates and may impose a permanent ban on the applicants involved, according to statement issued by it.

Also read: What do polio travel restrictions mean for Pakistan?

The commission said that detection of a forged document would result in summary rejection of the visa application and permanent denial of visa for future travel also.

It advised the applicants to comply with the polio certification requirements.

The Indian high commission had informed Pakistan’s foreign ministry in December that being a polio-free country India had decided to declare polio certificates mandatory for those who wanted to visit the country. It had declared that after Jan 30, visa applications would not be accepted without such certificates.

The ministry was informed that all adult and child applicants would have to obtain polio vaccines at least six weeks before their departure to India.

An official of the commission alleged that a number of persons had submitted “fake polio certificates” along with their applications.

The personnel of immigration department at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport have also been facing the same problem.

An official said some people thought the vaccine was injurious to health. “People mostly travelling to the Middle East from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or the Federally Administered Tribal Areas try to travel on fake cards. Whenever someone having a fake card is stopped, we issue him a fresh card after vaccination,” he said.

The National Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Dr Rana Safdar, said that although the issue of fake documents did not pertain directly to the EPI, steps had been taken to ensure submission of genuine polio certificates.

“Initially, a standard procedure was formulated to ensure that every person got a certificate from a government hospital. A format of the vaccination card was prepared and it was made clear that strict action would be taken against the officials of hospitals found involved in issuing fake certificates,” he said.

“By the end of the August about one million people going abroad had been vaccinated. The record shows that almost the same amount of vaccine was consumed.

“This shows that there were just a few cases of people trying to go abroad without vaccination. But still it is a serious issue and the Directorate of Central Health Establishment takes action against those involved,” he said.

On May 5, the World Health Organisation declared it mandatory for citizens of Pakistan, which was among countries transferring polio virus, to get at least one dose of the vaccine before travelling abroad.

Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2014