Anti-polio campaign: Health workers report threats, refuse to join drive

Lady health workers say threatening notes were pinned to their doors

Tariq Ismaeel July 25, 2016
Lady health workers speaking to the media about finding threatening notes pinned to the doors early on Monday. PHOTO: EXPRESS

DERA GHAZI KHAN: Several lady health workers in Dera Ghazi Khan refused to take part in the polio inoculation campaign that kicked off in the province on Monday saying they had found threatening notes pinned to the entrances of their homes.

The reports came from Union Councils 1 and 2 of Dera Ghazi Khan. Lady health workers in these areas told journalists that someone had knocked on their doors early in the morning. Pinned to the doors were notes saying: “We will not spare you or your families if you continue to administer polio vaccine to children in your area”.

According to the Health Department, there were 26 lady health workers from each union council. “Only 13 lady health workers from Union Council 2 showed up,” an official of the department said. The rest refused to take part in the campaign after receiving the note.

Health EDO Dr Munawar Abbas said he had informed the health services director general, the DCO and the DPO about the incident as soon as he had learnt about it. “The district administration has declared a security high-alert in the two union councils and have deployed law enforcement personnel to conduct search operations in the area,” he said.

Following the lady health workers’ refusal to take part in the polio vaccination campaign, health nutrition supervisors volunteered to go door to door to vaccinate children in the two union councils.

Health officials said more than 190,000 children were administered polio vaccine on Monday. “The workers met the target set for them.”

Abbas said that the campaign would be completed successfully. “The case of the threatening notes is being investigated…no lady health worker has been forced to participate in the campaign.” He said despite the threat, 13 lady health workers from Union Council 2 had shown up for work.

The department will request senior students of the paramedical school to join the volunteers to administer polio vaccine to children in the area. “We will meet the target set for the inoculation drive at any cost.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2016.


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