PESHAWAR: MPA Advocate Khushdil Khan has sought independent inquiry into failure of the government to eradicate poliomyelitis despite spending millions of dollars in frequent vaccination campaigns since 1994.

The Awami National Party MPA, belonging to the area where polio scare occurred on April 22, moved a call attention motion in the provincial assembly on Monday, asking for thorough debate on failure in eradication of polio despite flow of monetary and technical assistance from the UN and different organisations.

A staunch supporter of polio vaccination, he said that it was important to eradicate the disease and safeguard the future of the children but there should be accountability to look into the reasons for complete failure.

“I will seek reply from the government for not making us part of the inquiry held to probe Badbher incident despite our request. Keeping elected representatives aloof from the hot issue relating to their constituencies cast doubts on credibility of the programme,” he said.

The MPA said that they had undertaken research on polio to present full details about the programme run by bureaucracy without support of elected people, who could resolve the community level issues more comfortably. He added that there were genuine concerns of people regarding vaccination that needed to be addressed through elected representatives.

“Our inability to eliminate the poliovirus is eroding Pakistan’s credibility in the world. We need to resolve the problem and ensure vaccination of our children against polio and other children diseases,” said Mr Khan.

He said that new polio cases were being recorded that showed the performance of the authorities concerned, who were yet to achieve the target of eradication of virus in the programme.

The ANP lawmaker, who is also a former deputy speaker, said that he would seek legislation on immunisation to be able to cover all target population in smooth manner.

“The matter has briefly been silenced but not vanished yet. Opponents of polio vaccination reside in the area where Monday’s polio scare took place so refusing vaccination will continue,” he said.

Mr Khan said that health department was totally responsible and should be held accountable for the lingering public health matter of polio the eradication of which had been declared a national cause.

He said that opposition to polio vaccination was not a new issue but the lawmakers were ignored by government in the campaign carried out in the areas inhabited by their voters.

“In the past, efficacy of polio vaccination was challenged in Peshawar High Court. There are same questions from people, who argue that who participated in the campaigns and provided funds for the campaign,” said the MPA.

He said that those issues could be handled amicably by elected representatives including MNAs, MPAs, nazims and councillors as they could prevail upon their electorates to administer drops to their children in a government programme to protect them from disabilities in case they remained unvaccinated.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019