Clues to EPI worker’s murder found: police

At least 10 persons have lost their lives over the past few months


Umer Farooq July 03, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS

PESHAWAR: Police is near arresting culprits behind the attack targeting a medical technician working for Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) a few days ago, District Police Officer Muhammad Sohaib Ashraf said on Sunday.

The DPO said that he could not share details with the media because it could influence the investigation.

“We have (uncovered) some significant clues,” Ashraf maintained.

At least 10 persons, including a district coordinator for polio eradication campaign, have lost their lives over the past few months.

Sohail Ahmed, a resident of Swabi district and posted in Narnji village, was on his way to office to submit a report about an outreach immunisation campaign.

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“More than 40 people involved in polio eradication campaigns, including police and FC personnel, have lost their lives but this is the first incident where a routine immunisation employee was gunned down,” senior officials said.

They stated that it was premature to say if this was a militant attack or the result of a personnel feud.

“This is a setback for routine immunisation,” Dr Hameed Afridi, the head of provincial EPI said.

According to senior health officials, this was 11th such case in the district. At least 10 others, including the district coordinator of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Dr Yaqoob, was shot dead in 2015.

They also stated that repeated ‘routine immunization’ campaigns were being carried because the coverage was low.

A joint survey carried out by the national polio eradication programme and National Expanded Programme on Immunisation divides the coverage of routine immunisation into various zones.

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According to the latest survey, the coverage of routine vaccination assessed in 11 high-risk districts across Pakistan turned out to be very alarming and ‘below satisfactory’ level.

The coverage was reported to be 60 per cent in Karachi and Peshawar, 25 per cent in Khyber Agency and Quetta while in Pishin and Qilla Abdullah, it was below 20 per cent.

The coverage in Punjab was above 80 per cent.

Swabi is the only district where separate anti-polio campaigns are being carried out and police is called in to protect polio workers.

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