Curbing polio resurgence: PHC rules vaccination certificate mandatory for Watan Card payments

Published: April 11, 2012

PHC rules that those seeking Watan Cards under BISP must provide polio vaccination certificates. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: In another effort to curb the resurgence of polio, the Peshawar High Court has ruled that those seeking Watan Cards under the Benazir Income Support Programme must provide polio vaccination certificates.

Last week, the court had ordered that it will not register any cases for hearing until litigants include proof with their applications that polio drops have been administered to their children. The move is crucial for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas, where 15 new polio cases have been reported so far this year and the World Health Organisation has issued a polio alert to the provincial government.

PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan issued the order on Tuesday as a divisional bench of the court heard a suo motu case on the supply of substandard drugs to government-run hospitals.

The BISP, headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Farzana Raja, launched in 2008 and is an unconditional programme to provide financial assistance to families. Enrolled families are paid cash assistance of Rs1,000 per month. Following the floods of 2010, the programme was also used to distribute Watan Cards to affected families.

Substandard drugs

Health services director-general Muhammad Sharif told the court that the health department has almost implemented the policy on drugs, which was framed by the high court. He said that a vigilance committee to monitor the standard of drugs will be constituted soon.

The CJ remarked that the department did not appear interested in implementing the policy even after a year. “We collected drug samples from hospitals in 23 districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and tested them. All were found substandard.”

The CJ said that pharmacists should be included in the purchasing and procurement committee for drugs, adding that four committee members had already resigned.

“We have reports that the four members who resigned from the committee did not want to become a party to the gang,” the CJ remarked, adding that two of the committee members were in partnership for running a drug manufacturing factory. “For God’s sake DG, tell the truth. Eliminate the lacunas. Tell us, we will come to rescue you.”

He then ordered the health department to mend everything within ten days and terminate all private members from the drugs purchasing and procurement committee. He directed that specialist doctors should be posted in far-flung areas of the province for at least two years.

“If the judiciary can depute women judges to perform their duties at the Darul Qaza, why can specialist doctors not be posted in remote areas of the province under the referral policy?” the CJ remarked, ordering that special incentives should be offered to doctors deputed in remote areas.

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