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PESHAWAR: The government has expressed concerns over assigning duty to polio staff by UN agencies outside Peshawar without intimation and has imposed complete ban on posting of such staffers outside the provincial capital.

An order issued by deputy commissioner of Peshawar has asked the staff not to comply with such directives of the partner organisations or face action. The order said that the UN polio staff would be surrendered from Peshawar if they obeyed such directives in future.

The directive issued by Deputy Commissioner Imran Hamid Sheikh on Thursday said that it was noticed during the last several anti-polio campaigns that union council level monitoring staff was receiving directions from different quarters to leave the duty assigned to it by district polio control room (DPCR) and join some other tasks without proper intimation to the authorities concerned.

DC asks officials not to comply with orders of partner organisations

Sources said that under a changed strategy, the UN had hired about 3,000 female community health workers and 250 union council polio officers including district health communication officers and communication officers and polio eradication officers.

The deputy commissioner expressed concerns that such instructions were being communicated directly to members of district polio teams via emails by different quarters without taking on board the DPCR.

“Such haphazard directions from different quarters, having no synchronisation with ongoing activities in the field, not only inflict severe damage on the quality of the ongoing tasks but also create embarrassing situation for DPCR management,” said the deputy commissioner in the two-page order, copied to all relevant officials including health secretary and focal person to prime minister for polio eradication.

“Therefore, I, Imran Hamid Sheikh Deputy Commissioner Peshawar, in exercise of powers conferred upon me under National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication, do hereby impose complete ban on the personnel engaged in polio eradication activities within the territorial jurisdiction of Peshawar district,” he said.

He has asked all the staff from community health workers to members of DPCR that they should not comply with instructions received through email or otherwise, issued from any quarter, until the same is communicated by the DPCR from its official email address or through any other mode of communication.

“The order shall come into force forthwith and shall remain in force unless modified or withdrawn,” said the order.

The provincial coordinator of the emergency operations centre for polio eradication has been advised to ask different partners to refrain from doing direct correspondence with “Peshawar polio staff”, and if needed correspondence should take place via DPCR only.

The members of DPCR have been directed to ensure compliance or their services will be surrendered from the district Peshawar without any further notice.

Sources said that the deputy commissioner, who was tasked under National Emergency Plan for Polio to spearhead the campaign, was sick with the UN

agencies that were totally responsible for anti-polio vaccination in Peshawar from where environmental sample for poliovirus had been testing positive for the last on year.

In December last year, he had warned to take action against the staff of UN agencies if poliovirus was not eliminated from the sewerage water in Peshawar.

However, poliovirus continues to circulate in Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2019