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Polio team caught faking data, wasting vaccines

Updated November 19, 2018

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“We decided on severe punishment because this is not tolerable. This was not just a blunder or a mistake."— Reuters/File
“We decided on severe punishment because this is not tolerable. This was not just a blunder or a mistake."— Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: A team of polio vaccinators were caught faking data and wasting polio vaccines in the federal capital.

Confirming the incident, focal person on polio for Islamabad, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Dr Asif Rahim said the services of all 11 team members were terminated so no one dares repeat such a practice.

“We decided on severe punishment because this is not tolerable. This was not just a blunder or a mistake. Due to what the team did, a number of children were not vaccinated which can also delay getting to the goal of eradicating the virus from the country,” he said.

An official of the polio programme said that on Saturday, a team from the World Health Organisation caught vaccinators deputed at the permanent transit point (PTP) of Sabzi Mandi Mor.

They would spill two drops of the vaccine on the ground for every fake name they would enter in the data for vaccinated children.

“The monitoring team reported the matter to the district administration and requested that appropriate action be taken as this led to a waste of funds and also created a hurdle in the way of eradicating the polio virus,” he said.

“If such things can happen in the federal capital, what would the situation be like in the rest of the country? We have decided to take strict action to convey to polio teams across the country that such practices will not be tolerated,” he said.

A large number of people come from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas where the polio virus is prevalent.

The virus can therefore spread to the urban areas as well. A PTP has been established in the area so that all children coming from the tribal areas are vaccinated.

“We will ensure every child is vaccinated so we are successful in the war against polio,” he said.

The district administration and polio programme are very serious about the issue and will not compromise on negligence and blunders, the ADC said.

A few days ago at an open hearing at the Koral Police Station, a woman was brought in with the complaint that she did not want to vaccinate her children against polio as she thought doing so will create health problems for them.

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqat swallowed polio drops in front of her to convince her they were safe and in the better interests of her children. The woman then agreed to vaccinate her children.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2018

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