Fake news hinders anti-polio campaign in K-P

Administration decides to halt anti-polio drive in rural Peshawar, only administer drops to children below five

Our Correspondent April 23, 2019

PESHAWAR: A day after panic gripped Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa over anti-polio vaccines, the administration and police on Tuesday decided to halt the anti-polio campaign in the rural areas of the provincial capital.

It was also decided to vaccinate children below five years of age in the anti-polio drive. Children above five will not be administered the anti-polio vaccine in Peshawar.

Suspect arrested in Peshawar after conspiring against polio campaign

The public hospitals of the provincial capital on Monday were filled to capacity with over 25,000 children brought by their parents for check-ups after fake news spread that children were falling sick after taking anti-polio drops.

By midday, the entire city was caught in the hysteria as people hauled their children in the sweltering heat to hospitals where rush caused a shortage of space and attendants were seen quarrelling with security staff.

Around 5,000 children were brought to the Hyatabad Medical Complex (HMC) while around 5,000 children were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawar. At least another 8,000 checked in at the Naseerullah Babar Hospital and another 6,000 at the Khyber Teaching Hospital, while 1,700 reported at Molvi Gee Hospital.

The rumours also caused riots, undermining inoculation efforts of the door-to-door campaign.

In an attempt to pre-empt efforts to further jeopardise the situation, the authorities concluded it best to not send anti-polio teams to rural union councils including Budh Bher and Mashokhel.

The health department said the teams were facing difficulties in administrating anti-polio vaccines although some parents were cooperating. It claimed to have covered 81 per cent of the provincial capital on the first day of the campaign.

Health unit set on fire in protest sparked by polio vaccine in Peshawar

Meanwhile, the K-P police also apprehended a suspect for allegedly conspiring against the ongoing anti-polio campaign. The arrest came after a video caught the suspect, Nazar Gul, instructing healthy children to pose unconsciously.

Prime Minister's Focal Person on Polio Eradication Babar bin Atta said in a tweet that the police had registered a First Information Report (FIR) against 12 individuals who were behind the Peshawar polio drama.


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