PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has called upon parents to shun propaganda by opponents of anti-polio vaccination to ensure safety of their children from being crippled by poliomyelitis.

Unlike the past practice when people were arrested for unwillingness to get their children vaccinated, it was announced that force against refusals wouldn’t be used. “Unfounded rumours against oral polio vaccine by certain elements have been hampering our resolve to get rid of the virus and ensure that our children grow healthy,” the chief minister told participants of a ceremony held in Mashokhel village here on Monday to inaugurate the vaccination campaign.

He administered OPV to students at Darul Kalam, a private school where children dramatised vaccine’s reaction on April 22, and warned that hesitancy against immunisation would not be tolerated as it was national cause to do away with childhood ailments including polio.

Prime Minister Focal Person on Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta gave drops to Nazar Mohammad, who caused big health scare when pupils of the schools played ill and checked into hospitals just three months ago at the same venue.

Over four million children to be immunised in KP

A statement said that 4.6 million children would be vaccinated in the provinince as part of the nationwide campaign.

The chief minister regretted that anti-vaccine campaigns had adversely affected the polio programme and put the lives of children at stake. “Parents should get into their heads that polio vaccination is a matter of our future generations and the government will not allow anyone to sabotage the national drive,” he added.

Provincial ministers Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan and Shaukat Yousafzai; Emergency Operations Centre Kamran Coordinator Ahmed Afridi; Health Secretary Dr Sayed Farooq Jamil, DG Health Dr Arshad Ahmed Khan, Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Ali Asghar and DHO Dr Ghulam Subkhani were also present on the occasion.

The chief minister stressed the need for collective efforts to eradicate the disease.

In Haripur, the anti-polio drive was kicked off by Deputy Commissioner Arifullah Awan by administering vaccine to a child at his office.

He said that seven teams would administer anti-polio vaccine to 14,500 children in three union councils of the district during the campaign.

He said that for the three-day campaign health department selected three union councils including Bait Gali and Nara Amazai of Ghazi tehsil and Sikandar Pur of Haripur city area.

In Bajaur tribal district, the anti-polio campaign was launched after a gap of about four months.

Officials said that 236,557 children below five years would be administered anti-polio vaccine across the district during the drive. They said that 915 teams comprising two polio workers each were formed for the drive. They said 41 teams were fixed and 18 were transit while the rest were mobile.

The officials said that strict security arrangements were made for safety of polio workers across the district. They said that the drive would be strictly monitored.

They said that several refusal cases were reported in different localities including Khar, the headquarters of the district. However, they said that efforts were under way to convince the parents to administer anti-polio vaccine to their children.

In Lakki Marwat, Deputy Commissioner Jehangir Azam Wazir visited several rural localities to check performance of the vaccinators on the first day of anti-polio drive.

He visited basic heath units in Ghaznikhel and shahbazkhel where he administered vaccine to several children. He asked people to cooperate with polio teams and immunise their children against the crippling disease.

The deputy commissioner also visited Pakistan Mobile Clinic at basic health unit in Ghaznikhel.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2019