ISLAMABAD: Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) chairman Hameedullah Jan Afridi has clarified that tribesmen are not against the polio immunisation campaign, nor has a fatwa been issued against the programme. He was talking to the World Health Organisation (WHO) mission on Thursday.
The head of Prime Minister Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell Begam Shahnaz Wazir Ali, senators from Fata Haji Khan and Hilalur Rehman were also present in the meeting.
Referring to various apprehensions and reports about Fata, Afridi said that no specific fatwa has been issued against polio, and the inhabitants of the area are only against drone attacks and bombardment of mortar shells which have claimed many innocent lives apart from causing heavy financial and infrastructural losses in most of areas.
He said that the Fata parliamentarians are fully engaged in activities to make the polio campaign a success and with the support of local residents, polio vaccine drops were being administered even in far flung remote border areas of Fata.
Afridi said that during in a recent polio campaign, conducted in Fata from July 16-18, polio drops were given to most of the children up to age of five years. However, he admitted some areas were left after they encountered severe resentment.
Afridi mentioned obstacles in Fata owing to the imposition of curfew and attacks. He clarified that in retaliation, the affected people have increased resentment over the polio immunisation campaign. He added that in some tribal areas, people are still deprived even of basic human necessities and they want peace so that normal life could be restored. He said the public representatives of respective areas are trying their utmost to provide all sorts of assistant for success of the polio campaign.
Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali said that the government is determined to wipe out polio from Pakistan and all possible resources are being used with effective coordination of volunteers and public representatives for this national cause.
The WHO Regional Director expressed his gratitude over the close coordination of government agencies and elected representatives specially belonging to Fata for eradication of polio and their role in removing all bottlenecks in this regard.
The delegation members also inquired about the public perception of the area where new polio cases had been reported and discussed ways and means to make result-oriented programs to administer polio drops to each and every child in the targeted areas.
Clergy brought on board for polio
Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali said that as many as 730 religious scholars and Ulema from different schools of thought have pledged their all-out support for eradication of polio from the country.
Secretary Religious Affairs Chaudhry Muhammed Azam briefed Dr Alwan on the involvement of religious leaders in the polio effort.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali said that all district Khateebs have been asked to participate in District Polio Eradication Committee meetings on regular basis and help resolve any issue emanating from religious based misconception.
She stressed better monitoring and sought help of the WHO experts in improving the monitoring system. “There is an urgent need to introduce a strong monitoring of monitors system to get real time information from the field on the performance of the monitors” she said.
Top health officials, including Secretary Health Balochistan Asmatullah Kakar and Dr Altaf Bosan, National Coordinator Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring Cell, also participated in the meeting.
WHO Regional Chief was briefed in detail on the innovative strategies adopted to involve key stakeholders.
He was told that the district leadership has been fully mobilised to spearhead the effort and District Polio Control Rooms have been set up which require technical assistance of the WHO to enhance their capacity.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali said that 56 transit points have been established in FATA and KP to immunise children in the move. Children up to 15 years of age are being immunized at these points. The polio points have been permanently set up and work around the year, she said.