QUETTA: The Balochistan government has decided to declare a “polio emergency” in Qilla Abdullah and Pishin districts following the outbreak of a thus far unknown strain of poliovirus.
Ten cases of the “Sabin-like type 2 poliovirus” were reported in the two Pakhtun-majority districts over the past three weeks prompting the federal government to ask the provincial administration to launch an inoculation drive within 30 days.
Chairing a high-level meeting in Quetta on Tuesday, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani ordered an inquiry into the outbreak of the new strain of poliovirus in the province. The meeting decided that a three-day inoculation drive will be carried out in the affected districts on Dec 10 and 24 and January 2.
“Eradication of polio from the country is a challenge for the government,” Raisani told the meeting. He called upon lawmakers from the two districts to monitor the fresh vaccination campaign in their respective constituencies.
A visibly irate chief minister rejected a briefing on the polio situation and said “it’s time for practical steps and not briefings”. It is a matter of grave concern that fresh polio cases are surfacing in Balochistan, he added. “If a single child is affected by polio, I feel the pain and consider myself responsible for it.”
The chief minister said if a government department failed to fulfill its responsibility, it would be held accountable. “Our [government’s] job is to provide policy and resources, and it’s for the concerned departments to implement these policies,” he said and warned that stern action would be taken against the negligent officials.
The chief minister said that he must be briefed on the vaccination campaign on a daily basis.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2012.
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