PESHAWAR: The national immunisation campaign scheduled for September 10 is in the limelight of controversies after reports of differences among officials emerged.
Officials, however, deny all such reports.
A large number of communication officers and ‘social mobilisers’ at the UNICEF had said they would not be able to take part in the upcoming polio drive because of life threats. While at the same time, the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) has served a one-month notice to the UNICEF and told the international fund to withdraw its support for the campaign after September 30 this year.
NRDF Chairman Muhammad Jalalud Din confirmed that the NRDF team has decided to part ways with the polio programme, saying they were criticised by a UNICEF official since the current phase of the project started.
“The Rs110 million funds are meant for various activities of the NRDF in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Frontier Regions. The money is not for distribution among the Ulema to win their support for the programme. Our team of 7,000 ulemas have addressed over 22,000 refusal cases,” he said.
Mufti Shaukat Ullah, hailing from district Nowshera, claimed they had supported the polio drive because of their national and Islamic duty, but a UNICEF official was continuously using foul language against ulemas in various meetings and community gatherings.
EPI Deputy Director Dr Janbaz Afridi said that none of the communication officers had refused to work in the anti-polio campaign.
“If anyone would refuse to do so they would lose their jobs, he said, adding “The NRDF does not have a direct role in such campaigns.” The upcoming anti-polio campaigns will not be affected by the NRDF and UNICEF parting ways, he added.
However, a UNICEF official said that they have officially not parted ways with the NRDF as yet. “They (NRDF) have some reservations which we will address,” she said, adding that the NRDF was an important part of the campaign and the ulema had played their role.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2012.