PESHAWAR, March 29: A new case of polio has been reported in the semi-tribal Frontier Region of Lakki Marwat, as parents continue to refuse vaccination of their children in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.

Deputy director of the Expanded Programme of Immunisation, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Jan Baz Afridi told Dawn on Tuesday that an 18-month-old boy Shaban, son of Aslam Khan, tested positive for poliomyelitis at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad.

Shaban, of village Zawara Mella Gabba Shadikhel of tehsil FR Lakki Marwat, did not receive any dose of oral polio vaccine because his parents would not allow that, he said.

With the new case, the total number of polio cases in the country reached 24, 12 of them in Fata, three in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, four in Balochistan and five in Sindh.

Mr Afridi said that 21,844 children missed the vaccine during the March 7-9 polio vaccination campaign because their parents spurned the vaccinators. Majority of the refusal cases were reported from Kohat, Hangu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and all other areas adjacent to the Fata.

Still, he said, the vaccinators covered 4.24 million under-five children out the 4.54 million targeted by the there-day campaign. These included 168,039 Afghan refugee children. He said that 312,240 children were missed because they were not at home when the vaccinating teams visited their area.

Scores of other children were missed because of security reasons as health workers were not willing to visit violence-hit areas, according to the EPI chief.

According to officials, lack of facilities for the health workers was also a problem that hampered the vaccination campaign. They said that several interventions by the health department to improve coverage of children had not delivered results due to which it was feared that the province might lose the international funding for the campaign.

STAFF BOYCOTT: The staff of All Fata Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation on Tuesday held a protest demonstration here against the delay in disbursement of their salaries and announced to suspend administering vaccines to children in the tribal areas.

Talking to media persons, the protestors said that they had not been paid their salaries for the last nine months and they were facing serious financial problems.

They said that the immunisation staff in other provinces was provided all incentives and paid salaries on regular basis, but those working in this region were forced to work without wages.

They said that the workers would attend the duty only after payment of their salaries.

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