A new case of polio emerged from the Sabzal Road area of Muslimabad in Quetta after family of a twenty three-month-old girl refused to administer her with anti-virus drops citing religious reservations — raising the number of affected children in the province to three this year.
UNICEF Media Officer Massoma Qurban told The Express Tribune that the baby identified as Mehrma, daughter of Agha Abdul Karim, was infected with the polio virus. “The virus has been detected from a child and she had never been vaccinated in her life,” he said.
Qurban revealed that the child did not receive polio vaccines because her family refused to administer the drops citing religious reservations. The last polio case from Quetta was detected on January 6, 2012 — with 14 polio cases having been reported from the areas in 2011.
Balochistan, in total, identified 18 polio cases during the same period last year compared to three this year.
According to sources, the child’s uncle Abdul Qayum Agha, prayer leader of a local mosque, denied polio vaccines to his niece. “At least 20 houses of the colony are obeying him and denying polio vaccines to their children,” sources said. They added that polio teams were not being allowed to operate in the colony – Sabzal Road is one of the largest slum localities of Quetta – for the last four years on religious grounds.
Meanwhile, Balochistan’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) head Dr Yusuf Bizenjo said that at least 200 children of the nearest areas will be affected because of ineffective administration of the anti-virus drops. “Denying polio vaccines to the children will cause many problems very soon,” Dr Bizenjo said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2012.
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