Following reports of a new polio case in Mardan and complaints about propaganda against immunisation, a new anti-polio campaign has been ordered in the district.
Mardan Division Commissioner Muhammad Adil Khan ordered the new special anti-polio campaign to vaccinate all childer younger than five years on Tuesday.
A grand jirga had been held in this regard and was attended by former provincial assembly member (MPA) Maulana Israrul Haq, National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) consultant Maulana Muhammad Rahim Haqani, Mufti Shaukatullah, Executive District Officer (EDO) Health Dr Ayub Roz, UNICEF representative Dr Jamil, WHO provincial polio team leader Dr Obaidul Islam and provincial focal person Dr Rahim Khattak, along with a large number of local people.
The ulema in attendance told participants that the negative propaganda against polio vaccination in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas was baseless. They added that ulema from al Azhar University in Egypt have already issued fatwas declaring the drops halal and in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
“After the new polio case surfaced in union council (UC) Mohib Banda, we are starting a special anti-polio campaign in this UC to counter any more positive cases” the EDO told the participants.
The first phase of new campaign will kick off in 40 UCs of Mardan from August 27 to 29; the second phase will take place from September 3 to 5 and a grand campaign will be conducted from September 10 to 12 in the whole district.
Commissioner Adil Khan further said that polio was a dangerous disease and if a child tested positive against it, he or she could not be treated and would be paralysed for life.
“Eradicating polio is very necessary for our next generation, if Pakistan remains the only country where it persists, other countries, including Saudi Arabia, will impose travel restrictions on our citizens” he said.
He sympathised with Said Islam, whose six-month-old daughter Sulaim tested positive for polio, and extended him the government’s full support.
Mardan in general and UC Mohib Banda especially has seen an increase in people promoting negative propaganda against polio drops. A total of 2,373 cases of parents refusing polio vaccinations were reported in the district, out of a total of 19,051 refusal cases across the province during the recent polio immunisation campaign.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.