Parental refusal sees 0.5% children miss out on polio vaccine in every round

Revelations contradict claims of "success" made by authorities.

Sumera Khan July 15, 2013
0.5% of 34.5 million accounts for almost 172,262 children. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: In a shocking revelation, the Pakistan polio program reported that almost 172,262 children, or 0.5% targeted children miss out on the oral polio vaccine during every campaign due to parental refusals.

This revelation was made at a presentation made by Shamsher Khan of the Pakistan Polio Program on Monday during a meeting hosted by Pildat, Prime Minster’s polio cell and attended by international polio eradication organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

The meeting was a follow-up to review implementations of the recommendations passed by the All Parties Conference on polio held in December 2012.

A participant of the behind-closed-doors-meeting, who belonged to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), told The Express Tribune that the official presentation stated that 0.5% of the total target population of the country refused to get vaccinated with the polio vaccine and that the number was claimed aa the lowest ever in the history of the country.

The Prime Minister’s polio cell, through a press release issued in October last year, had claimed that the number of parental refusals had gone down to the lowest ever while stating that 47,000 refusals had been recorded during the October National Polio Campaign, while WHO, during a presentation to media in April had claimed that almost 70,000 refusals were recorded in the round, which effectively meant that per figures provided, refusals were rising in every quarter, with an increase of over 100, 000 in the last quarter.

Another parliamentarian from the National Party from Balochistan told The Express Tribune that the meeting was told that apart from the 0.5% of the refusals, 373,000 children were missed during every polio round whereas 250,000 children were inaccessible due to the ban by the Taliban in North and South Waziristan.

“If we add the three different figures shared with us by the experts, we are talking about 0.8 million innocent children missed during every campaign in the country.”

According to him, another shocking information shared with the parliamentarians by the officials stated that the polio virus had been restricted only to three transmission zones that included the country’s largest city Karachi, Central Khyber Pukhtunkhwah (KPK) Province, Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and central parts of Balochistan that included the most populous districts of Qilla Abdullah, Pashin and Quetta.

Another session with just KPK parliamentarians of the same presentation is going to be held on Tuesday.

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