Polio eradication: PMA dispels rumours, points out hurdles to the campaign

Published: March 8, 2012

“If government asks us for help, then we are ready for it,” said Dr Azhar. “There is no proper monitoring system." PHOTO: NNI

KARACHI: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) certified on Tuesday that polio vaccinations used in the country were safe and effective, dispelling the recent spate of rumours and myths about the safety of the vaccine.

While addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, secretary general of the PMA, Dr Pir Manzoor Ali, general secretary for PMA’s Sindh chapter, and Dr Qazi Muhammad Wasiq, general secretary of PMA’s Karachi chapter, acknowledged that there were administrative flaws in the polio-eradication campaign. Even though the vaccination drive has been continuing for years in the country, Pakistan has the largest number of polio cases in the world.

The doctors highlighted some of the major challenges to the polio drive, which include limited oversight and accountability at the lower government and administration levels, a deteriorating law and order situation, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, and rumours and the general negative perception that some people have about the oral vaccine.

“If government asks us for help, then we are ready for it,” said Dr Azhar. “There is no proper monitoring system. If we are serious about eradicating polio, all of us will have to play our part.”

Dr Pir Manzoor said that dedication of ground staff to the cause is extremely necessary. Illiteracy and complications arising due to internal migration continue to be significant hurdles. “If our lady health workers are not given salaries for the last five months, then how can we expect them to perform their duties in the polio eradication campaign?”

The PMA officials condemned the propaganda about the vaccine that keeps coming to the forefront every now and then, and encouraged the government to take strong action against the perpetrators behind such activities.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.

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