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LAKKI MARWAT/KARAK, Oct 6: Unwillingness of parents to immunise their children below five years of age against polio has become a major issue for the local health and district authorities forcing them to join their heads to find out a solution to it.

The number of such children whose parents are reluctant to administer them with oral polio vaccine is over 2,000, who are vulnerable to attack of crippling disease.

After surfacing of two confirmed polio cases in the district this year the disease is posing a serious threat to thousands of children along with those whose parents are unwilling to vaccinate them.

“In the previous campaign launched last month the health department recorded 2,439 refusal cases and out of them 154 were covered during the three day activities,” said an official.

He said 827 children were covered during post-campaign catch-up activity while 1,458 children could not be vaccinated due to refusal by their parents.

He said despite efforts by officials of district health department, local administration and other stakeholders the number of refusal cases had been increased in recent months.

“The issue of refusal cases was also discussed in the meeting of district polio eradication committee with special focus on seeking help from prayer leaders to cope with the issue,” he maintained.

“The health department is optimistic to ensure coverage of such cases in upcoming anti-polio drive with activating union council level polio eradication committees and engaging clerics and female teachers,” he added. Meanwhile, elders of Shnawa Guddikhel, a remote union council of Karak district, have agreed to administer polio vaccine to their children after successful negotiations with health authorities and district administration.

Sources in health department told Dawn EDO Dr Mohammad Daraz and the local elders after thorough negotiations reached an agreement to allow the vaccination teams to administer polio drops to the children. The breakthrough was made after the district administration agreed to accept genuine demands of the local elders. Now the polio teams will be able to reach 1,793 children in the region.

Earlier, the health department had failed to administer polio vaccine to children of Shnawa Guddikhel as elders demanded restoration of electricity suspended by Pesco on account of non-payment of dues and provision of necessary instruments to a local basic health unit.