PESHAWAR: Though millions of rupees have been pumped into the polio vaccination campaign, a large portion of the population in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and adjoining tribal regions remains averse to the vital drops.
Donors have been funding the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) to convince unwilling parents and have also sought help from clerics and religious leaders to vaccinate maximum number of under-fives against the crippling virus.
According to the NRDF records, a sum of Rs52,80,000 is spent every month on vaccination across the province. If a family refuses to inoculate its children, a team is rushed to the area to educate the family on the importance of the drops.
UNICEF has sanctioned Rs110 million for 14 months to be distributed amongst Ulema, so that they remove negative perception of the vaccine, Dr Janbaz Afridi, the deputy director of the Expanded Programme of Immunisation in K-P, told The Express Tribune. However, the number of refusal cases is not decreasing, he added.
Parents remain unmoved and some sections of the population have started using polio vaccination as a bargaining tool to get their problems solved.
A jirga, comprising elders of Mamand Khel and Sari Khel sub-clans in Frontier Region Bannu warned that they will boycott the vaccination drive and ban the entry of police officials into the area if the government did not ensure uninterrupted power supply in the district.
Meanwhile, medics warned of a measles outbreak in different parts of South Waziristan if children were not immunised on time.
At present measles vaccine is not available at the Vaccine Centre at the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Wana, Dr Azmat Hayat Khan, the agency surgeon, told journalists. He warned that further delay would deteriorate the situation. “I have informed senior officials of the health department about the situation,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.
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