Khyber vaccinators decide to boycott anti-polio drive

Updated November 30, 2014

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Khyber Agency has the highest number of reported polio cases after the restive North Waziristan Agency. — AFP/File
Khyber Agency has the highest number of reported polio cases after the restive North Waziristan Agency. — AFP/File

LANDI KOTAL: Health workers and their supervisors on Saturday announced boycott of the upcoming anti-polio vaccination campaign in Jamrud and Landi Kotal, which is scheduled to start on Dec 8.

The decision was made at a meeting attended by a large number of health workers and at least 31 polio team supervisors. 

The meeting took stock of what they called the health authorities intentional denial of timely payment of dues to health workers and supervisors after the completion of every vaccination campaign in Khyber Agency.

“Every health worker puts his or her life in danger for the sake of reaching out to every child under age five even in the high-risk localities, but at the end they are made to wait for payment of their dues for months,” said the participants of the meeting.

They said that payment for last five campaigns had not been made to them, which had compelled most of them to borrow money from their colleagues for meeting their day-to-day expenses.

Through a unanimous resolution, the health workers announced boycott of the forthcoming campaign till they were paid all their outstanding dues. The World Health Organisation has made it mandatory to pay Rs5,000 to every supervisor and Rs3,000 to Khyber vaccinators decide to boycott anti-polio drive health worker after completion of every campaign. 

WHO representatives said that all the outstanding dues had already been released and it was the responsibility of the agency surgeon to disburse the amount among the health workers.

The affected health workers said that they had also submitted a written request to the political administration, asking it to help release the withheld amount to polio workers, but to no avail.

Dawn has learnt that the issue of non-payment of dues to the polio workers had severed relations between the officials of political administration and former Agency Surgeon Dr Rehman Afridi as WHO insisted on a number of occasions that the amount was already handed over to Dr Afridi but it was not timely distributed among health workers. Dr Afridi was only recently replaced by Dr Qasim who said that he would take up the matter with his high-ups in Fata Secretariat. 

Khyber Agency has so far registered 60 of the total 267 polio cases in Pakistan with most coming from the restive Bara tehsil where health officials said they had abandoned the anti-polio vaccination due to ongoing military operation. However, arrangements have been made at five exit points to vaccinate children coming out of Bara with the newly displaced families.

Published in Dawn, November 30th , 2014