Fake markers

Published May 14, 2022

RECENT reports reveal that the two children in KP who had contracted polio this year, had fake marks on their hands. Indelible blue ink is generally applied to a child’s finger after he or she has been vaccinated. But, it seems, the ways to avoid vaccinations are endless and continue to challenge all efforts to eradicate polio in the country. In April, after a gap of 15 months, two polio cases emerged in the country — both in Mir Ali council of North Waziristan. They surfaced at a time when our polio authorities thought they were nearing the end of the decades-long war against the crippling illness. Neither child had been administered the polio vaccine; the cases had been detected 10 days apart and in the same area. It may well be that such attempts to mislead vaccinators are prevalent in other parts of the country too. In fact, last June, a Unicef official had warned Pakistan’s polio managers to pay special attention to the “hundreds of thousands” of “missing” and “invisible” children — those whose parents continued to refuse the vaccine for their offspring and those who remained undocumented and outside the school network. He advised the government to try and understand why such parents were against the vaccine.

However, it is noteworthy that concerns about discrepancies in the official data had surfaced as far back as late 2018 when a third-party audit had revealed that the number of children who had received the polio vaccine was marked up by as much as 10pc in official reports in many areas. Subsequently, in July 2019, the then PM’s focal person on polio had admitted that the phenomenon of silent refusals was widespread in KP. Meanwhile, a report in this newspaper in September 2019 cited the Kabalgram union council medical officer in Shangla district as saying that as many as 60pc of parents refused to have their child vaccinated against polio. Clearly, the authorities should revise their strategy and plug the structural gaps so that their efforts do not go to waste.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022

Opinion

A velvet glove

A velvet glove

The general didn’t have an easy task when he took over, but in retrospect, he managed it rather well.

Editorial

Updated 24 May, 2022

Marching in May

MORE unrest. That is the forecast for the weeks ahead as the PTI formally proceeds with its planned march on...
24 May, 2022

Policy rate hike

THE State Bank has raised its policy rate by 150bps to 13.75pc, hoping that its latest monetary-tightening action...
24 May, 2022

Questionable campaign

OVER the past couple of days, a number of cases have been registered in different parts of the country against...
23 May, 2022

Defection rulings

By setting aside the existing law to prescribe their own solutions, the institutions haven't really solved the crisis at hand.
23 May, 2022

Spirit of the law

WOMEN’S right to inheritance is often galling for their male relatives in our patriarchal society. However, with...
23 May, 2022

Blaming others

BLAMING the nebulous ‘foreign hand’ for creating trouble within our borders is an age-old method used by the...