The Jhang district administration will prosecute people who refuse to let their children be immunised against polio in the ongoing campaign, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Muhammad Shahid Niaz told the media on Saturday.
The DCO has invoked Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in the district and directed officials to ensure that no child under the age of five years is left out of the three-day anti-polio vaccination campaign that began on Friday. He said action under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code would be taken against parents who refused to let the Health Department teams administer polio vaccine to their children.
DCO Niaz said the decision to prosecute parents for non-compliance was taken following reports about a neighbourhood where families had been unwilling to let their children be immunised against the disease.
He said there were about 50 houses in the neighbourhood who had not allowed vaccination of their children during the previous two campaigns. “I have asked the elders of these households to cooperate with our teams and warned them of strict action if they did not let their children be vaccinated this time,” the DCO said. He said officials in charge of the campaign had been directed to report all cases where parents were not cooperating with them so that they can be prosecuted.
The DCO said officials found negligent during the drive would also be taken to task.
As many as 976 mobile teams have been formed in Jhang for the current campaign.
The teams will administer anti-polio drops to 353,560 children under the age of five. There are 36 supervisors and 184 area in-charges who have been deployed at rural health centres and identified dispensaries. They are directed to monitor and record progress in the campaign and report incidents where families refuse to let their children be immunised.
Five Health Department officials were recently suspended for negligence after polio was detected in a three-year-old girl in the district.
The action was taken after a test at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad confirmed polio in Sajida, a resident of Kholara, over two weeks ago.
EDO (Health) Khalid Islam had later confirmed that some areas of the district were missed in the previous vaccination campaigns.
Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant
Whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, he is directed to abstain from a certain act, or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, disobeys such direction, shall, if such disobedience causes or tends to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury, to any persons lawfully employed, be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to [six hundred rupees], or with both; and if such disobedience causes or tends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to [three thousand rupees] , or with both.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.