A three-day anti-polio campaign was launched in six agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Frontier Regions on Monday.
A total of 971,523 children will be vaccinated, skipping again the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) following the ban imposed by a warlord on June 16, who dubbed the drive a move by US spies.
The campaign will be conducted by a total of 3,500 teams, which include 3,122 mobile teams, 277 fixed, 101 transit and 712 area in-charge.
The teams have been provided with 59,683 oral polio vaccines.
It is estimated that 145,845 children in NWA will be missed during the drive, in addition to 11,000 children, out of a total of 81,009, in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) due to the ban on vaccination drives imposed by Mullah Nazir on June 25.
The ban is contingent on the US halting its drone strikes in the tribal region.
The campaign will only be carried out in the Mehsud inhabitant areas in SWA where the ban is not imposed and the area is said to have been largely under the control of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Hakimullah Mehsud group. “We are taking the help of Pakistan Army and political administration in Bara Sub-division of Khyber Agency to carry out the campaign and have assigned duties to lady health workers in the Kurram and Bajaur areas,” an official of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation told The Express Tribune.
He added that they had conducted various meetings with militant commanders in NWA with the help of National Research and Development Foundation to convince them to allow polio teams in their areas but had not received any fruitful result.
“Bara division has both Type-1 and Type-3 virus and teams will vaccinate around 33,000 there, in addition to 25,000 in Tirah Valley, to stop spread of the viruses to other parts of the agency,” said Fata Polio Monitoring Cell Focal Person Dr Muhammad Azam. He added that special control room had been established in Fata Secretariat to monitor the activities.
During the National Immunisation Days from July 16 to 18, a total of 58,966 children could not be vaccinated due to unavailability, of which 44,699 have been immunised. Of the 2,813 refusal cases, 2,211 were vaccinated.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2012.
More in PakistanCurrency: Rupee weakens against dollar