ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has asked the four provinces, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Directorate of Central Health Establishment to take appropriate measures after the Indian High Commission complained that some Pakistanis had submitted fake polio certificates with their visa applications.
The NHS directive coincided with the confirmation of four new polio cases by the National Institute of Health’s Polio Virology Laboratory, raising the number reported this year to 206.
Know more: Steps taken to check fake polio certificates
The Indian High Commission informed Pakistan’s foreign ministry in December last year that India being a polio-free country had decided to make polio certificates mandatory for those seeking to visit the country and that after Jan 30, no applications lacking such certificates would be entertained.
But an official of the commission alleged that a number of Pakistanis had submitted fake polio certificates along with their applications.
The commission said in a statement that it had been rejecting such applications and warned that the applicants with bogus polio certificates would be permanently banned from travelling to India.
Four new cases of disease confirmed
On Friday, the NHS ministry wrote a letter informing the provinces, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Directorate of Central Health Establishment that Minister of State for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar had taken notice of reports about issuance of fake polio vaccination certificates to the outbound international travellers from Pakistan.
The letter said that in the wake of exportation of poliovirus from Pakistan to other parts of the world, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee had in May imposed travel regulations making it mandatory for international travellers from Pakistan to be vaccinated against polio.
On May 31, the ministry issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) asking provincial governments to implement World Health Organisation’s recommendations and devise a foolproof mechanism to check the issuance of fake certificates.
It warned that people found involved in such acts of commission or omission would be proceeded against in accordance with law. Action would also be taken against those found charging a traveller for the vaccination certificate.
POLIO CASES: According to a ministry official, two new polio cases were reported from Peshawar, one from Khyber Agency and one from Sheikhupura in Punjab.
He said that of the 206 cases detected this year, 136 were found in Fata, 42 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 19 in Sindh, six in Balochistan and three in Punjab.
Published in Dawn, October 11th , 2014