Polio eradication: Two more suspended for providing expired drops

All four FATA health officials now stand suspended; new committee to be formed to probe the case.

Zulfiqar Ali/abdur Rauf July 05, 2012


Two more officials of the Federally Administered and Tribal Areas (FATA) Health Directorate were suspended on Wednesday for administering expired polio drops to children in South Waziristan Agency (SWA).

This adds up to the suspension of two officials for the same reason last week. The FATA Secretariat Social Sector Secretary Dr Aftab Akbar Durrani confirmed that Agency Surgeon Dr Sher Zali Khan and Field Supervisor Dr Muhammad Arif were suspended for their role in the case.

Storekeeper Noor Aslam and Divisional Supervisor for Vaccination Kiramatullah were suspended earlier upon the completion of preliminary inquiry. The preliminary investigation committee was headed by SWA Assistant Political Officer Hamidullah Khan and two officials from FATA Health Directorate Dr Sartaj and Dr Qasim.

Around 3,000 children below five years of age in Shekai in SWA were given expired oral polio vaccines during the polio vaccination campaign carried out on May 15 and May 16 in the region.

The FATA Health Directorate had ordered inquiry into the matter. Around 200 vials of expired polio vaccine were given to children in Shekai, even though the labels on the bottles indicated that they had expired.

A written confession statement of the Shekai Union Council Polio Workers (UCPW) Head Amanullah, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, states that “the polio vaccines I received today on 15-6-2012 at 2:30pm were found expired. The manufactured date on the polio vaccine packet was June 2010 and the expiry date was May 2012.”

Political administration official Aslam Jawed, during an inspection, found that the vaccines were expired.

In the statement, Amanullah says, “I handed the packets over to [Aslam Jawad] and stopped the vaccination.

The two packets vaccines used earlier were also found expired.”

The preliminary report had recommended that Dr Sher and Dr Arif be suspended. However since the two were grade 17 officials, only the Chief Secretary was authorised to issue orders of their suspension, Dr Aftab Durrani said.

He added the case was forwarded to the provincial chief secretary Ghulam Dastagir Khan. The suspension orders came through on Wednesday.

Dr Durrani said a new committee will be formed on Thursday (today) to conduct a formal inquiry under efficiency and disciplinary rules that would suggest further action against the four officials.

He added that the children given the drops were at no danger but the entire episode could adversely impact the polio vaccination campaign.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2012.


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