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An Afghan national is being given polio drops at Torkham border on Monday. — Dawn
An Afghan national is being given polio drops at Torkham border on Monday. — Dawn

KHAR: The Levies and Khasadar personnel in several tribal districts boycotted duty during the anti-polio campaign on Monday.

They vowed to continue the boycott till acceptance of their demands. The Levies and Khasadar personnel in the merged districts anonymously announced to boycott security duty during the anti-polio drive. The decision was made in a meeting of core committee of both the forces in all merged district. The Khasadar and Levies personnel have presented 22-point charter of demands to government.

The boycott forced the health department to postpone the scheduled three-day campaign against polio in several areas of Bajaur tribal district.

Sources said that senior officials of local administration and health department earlier did not take the decision regarding boycott by personnel of both the forces seriously and termed pressure tactics for acceptance of their demands.

Authorities start vaccinating Afghans of all ages at Torkham

However, they said that senior officials held a meeting with the representatives of both the forces on Sunday evening but failed to persuade them to provide security to the teams of vaccinators.

The health department and World Health Organisation showed concerns over postponement of anti-polio drive in several localities of the district.

In Mohmand tribal district, Levies and Khasadar forces boycotted polio duty to pressurise the government to accept their demands.

In parts of Safi tehsil, security forces provided security to polio teams while in the rest of seven tehsils the campaign was postponed.

The Levies and Khasadar personnel also staged protest in Ekkaghund in favour of their demands and rejected extension of police system to tribal districts.

In Orakzai, Levies and Khasadar forces also boycotted polio duty. They threatened to continue the boycott till acceptance of their demands.

In Khyber, the authorities started vaccinating of Afghans of all ages at the Torkham border as part of the global polio eradication initiative and the country’s emergency action plan to stop poliovirus transmission into its territory from across the border.

Official at a ceremony held at Torkham border said that travellers of all ages and gender would be vaccinated against polio alongside provision of a health card to them by the health teams of both countries with the sole purpose of timely interrupting poliovirus circulating in the regions on both sides of the border.

They said that poliovirus mostly infected children below the age of five but adults could also act as carriers of the virus. “All age vaccination is a step forward and an effective way to put an end to poliovirus movement across the border,” they said.

The countrywide three days anti-polio campaign was launched in three subdivisions of Khyber on Monday amid Khasadar and Levies boycott of providing security to the health teams.

The administration deployed personnel of Frontier Constabulary to provide security to the teams of vaccinators.

In Lakki Marwat, several children of reluctant parents were immunised against polio on the first day of the three-day campaign started on Monday.

The deputy commissioner visited rural localities when field staffers informed him that parents were not willing to get their children vaccinated. He monitored the anti-polio drive in Tajazai, Ghaznikhel, Jabukhel and other rural localities.

In Lower Dir, the three-day drive against polio was started in all parts of the district.

The deputy commissioner and district health officer inaugurated the drive by administering anti-polio vaccine to children below five years.

Both the officials paid a detailed field visit to monitor the drive.

The deputy commissioner urged the health workers to put in their efforts to eradicate poliovirus in the region. He said that the campaign would be made a success by adopting reward and punishment policy.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2019