LADHA: The political administration has launched a polio vaccination campaign in South Waziristan, about 30 months after Taliban imposed a ‘ban’ on immunisation.

According to officials, 76,720 children under the age of five will be administered oral polio vaccines during the four-day campaign launched on Monday.

The authorities have engaged 201 mobile teams for the campaign being carried out in four tehsils of the tribal agency dominated by the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe.

Taliban imposed a ‘ban’ on immunisation about 30 months ago

An official said on Tuesday that army and Levies Force personnel would provide security to vaccinators. A house-to-house campaign has begun while mobile teams are stationed at checkposts on main roads for children travelling from one place to another.

While imposing the ban on all types of vaccination in North and South Waziristan about two and a half years ago, Taliban militants linked its lifting to cessation of US drone strikes. They also alleged that secret agencies had recruited agents in polio teams to collect information about their activities.

According to sources, Taliban factions in Wana have so far kept quiet over the campaign.

The ban in South Waziristan was imposed by Taliban leader Maulvi Mohammad Nazir, who had signed a peace deal with the government, and in North Waziristan by Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

During the ban at least 18 polio cases were reported from South Waziristan.

The officials said that political agent Islam Zaib had held a meeting with tribal elders in Wana two days ago and asked them to cooperate with health workers carrying out the campaign. He warned that the government would take action against anyone trying to obstruct the polio eradication programme.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2014



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