Another polio case was reported in the tribal areas, where polio vaccination teams have been denied access due to the ongoing military operation.
According to the Prime Minister’s Monitoring and Coordination Cell for Polio Eradication report, the new case has been reported from Sara Dand village of Tehsil Bara in Khyber Agency. Khyber is one of the high-risk areas where vaccination teams have been prohibited access since September 2009, when the military operation began.
This time, the victim is one year-old Iqra, who has been paralysed since April 1 this year.
Task Force meeting
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali expressed her concern over the failure of the Pakistan Polio Eradication programme to achieve goals envisaged in the National Polio Emergency Plan.
At the third National Task Force meeting held at the PM Secretariat on Monday, Ali said that the results of the campaign were certainly not encouraging.
Officials familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune that the only goal accomplished by the PM’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell since the last meeting was the appointment of Ali as the PM’s focal person on polio eradication. Other than that, no other directives have been fully implemented.
One of the prime minister’s earlier orders was that the governor and chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa ensure that plans to eradicate polio are prepared for all union councils.
However, this could not be implemented in any tribal agency due to inaccessibility.
It had also been decided in the last meeting that lawmakers, both on the federal and provincial level, were to be made part of polio campaigns.
“However, the response from parliamentarians has not been encouraging,” an official quoted Ali as saying in Monday’s meeting. The prime minister was also told that funds for polio eradication have not been mobilised, but a new ‘media strategy’ is in the pipeline to counter negative reporting on polio.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM MAHWISH QAYYUM IN PESHAWAR)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.