QUETTA: The Balochistan government has decided to table a vaccination bill in the provincial assembly to make it compulsory for parents to get their children, below the age five, vaccinated for polio — refusal to which would lead to punishment and arrest by authorities.
"We are preparing a draft for the provincial government to bring Polio Vaccination Act in the Assembly," Balochistan Health Secretary Noor-ul-Haq Baloch told Dawn.com.
Balochistan Health Department has already declared 45 union councils as high risk areas. Meanwhile, presence of polio virus has already been confirmed in environmental samples collected from Quetta and Killa Abdullah districts.
"Until and unless refusal is ended, polio virus cannot be eradicated," Baloch said.
The health department has also decided to recruit local lady health workers in the 45 high risk Union Councils to eradicate the crippling virus. The high-risk UCs are located in Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Pishin districts.
The provincial health secretary said that one refusal affects children in 200 metres vicinity and it endangers the lives of other children. "Refusal is tantamount to crime," Baloch stated.
Up till now, three polio cases have been reported from Balochistan's Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Loralai districts. As far as the official statistics are concerned, 90 per cent parents administer polio drops to their children, however, 10 per cent refused to do so.
The provincial government has also approached the newly elected local body members in the 45 high risk UCs, urging them to join hands for the eradication of polio virus. "The councilors will hold monthly meetings with health officials in this regard," Baloch said.
Balochistan government has already declared polio emergency to eradicate the crippling virus. During 2011, a total of 73 polio cases were reported from Balochistan. However, the number was decreased following efforts by provincial health department, UNICEF and WHO.