Pakistan to set up polio vaccination points at airports

Published: May 6, 2014
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This was done in response to recommendations by the World Health Organisation. PHOTO: FILE

This was done in response to recommendations by the World Health Organisation. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will set up mandatory polio immunisation points at its international airports in response to recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the health ministry said Tuesday.

The WHO had warned on May 5 that the crippling disease has re-emerged as a public health emergency, with the virus currently affecting 10 countries worldwide and endemic in three including Pakistan.

“Special measures will include establishing mandatory immunisation counters on all airports, border crossings and seaports for all travellers,” said ministry spokesperson  Sajid Ali Shah.

Government response

Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar on Tuesday expressed reservations regarding the decision by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ban Pakistanis travelling abroad.

Speaking to the media outside the Parliament House, Tarar stated that the government would file an appeal against it. Tarar stated that polio cases had increased because of the poor law and order situation and because of distrust of vaccine campaigns that has come about after the Dr Shakeel Afridi case.

The Minister of State said that the cases were reported in Fata, Peshawar and some areas of Karachi. Tarar said no cases have been reported in Balochistan during the last two years as well or in Punjab during the last year.

She said that it is difficult to hold polio campaigns in Fata due to terrorism in the area.

Regarding the certificate for people willing to travel abroad, Tarar said it would be prepared with consultation of the provinces.

The minister said that the government has convened a meeting on May 7 (Wednesday) for all provincial health ministers and representatives of health departments in order to devise a strategy to address the issue.

She added that all religious scholars are onboard, and Imam-e-Kaaba is also expected to visit Pakistan next month (June) whose help will be sought in this regard.

Tarar said the major issue is accessibility to immunisation and it is the prime responsibility of the provincial governments to control and address the issue of polio.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Islooboy
    May 6, 2014 - 2:02PM

    Ab pachtane se kya fayada jab chidiya choobh gai khet?

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  • Pakistani
    May 6, 2014 - 2:46PM

    Typical of us Pakistanis.

    We wont do anything unless and until we are pushed against the wall by the international community.

    May Allah safeguard people of Pakistan from such idiot politicians.

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  • May 6, 2014 - 3:19PM

    if this restriction on travel recommended by WHO helps uninterrupted and wide polio vaccination programme there may be a review of the decision shortly/ in due course . The government has to make extensive awareness programme that the vaccination is harmless on fertility and the programme implementation in FATA , NW and border/ no go area may be entrusted to the local shura of the tribals with active support from the administration which may allay their fear of spying them on this pretext. Every domestic Pakistani traveller going abroad will feel ashamed off because of this restriction implying careless people and careless / inefficient government.

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  • AHA
    May 6, 2014 - 3:23PM

    @Islooboy:
    then what do you suggest? they shouldn’t do anything and get banned from the whole world? Stop criticizing everything. I know its a delayed reaction, they should’ve done something earlier but still, its good to see they’re doing something.

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  • Proud Pakistani
    May 6, 2014 - 3:55PM

    I think we should learn from our cross border country how they finished the polio & poverty just in time of decade!! in 2004 india has 80% of polio cases in world & around 37% poor people & now in 2014 they are polio free & now in 2014 acco to world bank just 12% if indian people are poor….i think we should use technology to be polio free country just as india did by using Information technology(IT).

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  • abc
    May 6, 2014 - 4:03PM

    Since this happened due to govt failure therefore the PPP and PMLN leaders must take the vaccine drops at the terminals before anyone else goes through this humiliating exercise at the airports.

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  • Dhanish
    May 6, 2014 - 4:13PM

    So basically still won’t treat and eradicate polio by vaccinating in rural and polio affected areas eliminating people dead against polio vaccination.
    Instead non affected polio people travelling abroad will be revaccinated at airports so they don’t transfer polio to other country people. Seems like the govt is more worried about other country people than its own people catching polio virus.

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  • fz
    May 6, 2014 - 4:33PM

    new way to collect bribe,

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  • Mohammad
    May 6, 2014 - 7:00PM

    Ok, I haven’t seen any crazier or absolutely ignorant people than these – anyone who has the ability or resources to travel abroad HAS ENOUGH BRAIN TO GET POLIO DONE for their kids.

    THIS PROBELM LIES IN RURAL AREAS not at AIRPORTS. WHO and Pakistan needs to understand this.

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  • Avtar
    May 6, 2014 - 7:31PM

    Who is to blame for Dr Afridi case….the government. Dr. Afridi was convicted in record amount of time with flimsy evidence. Murderers of Governor Taseer go free and are honored.
    All the politicians/Mullahs travelling abroad should be (re) vaccinated with Polio again.

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  • Kamal
    May 6, 2014 - 7:58PM

    There are no words to describe our incompetence, cowardice, disregard of world opinion and norms, lack of planning, carelessness, ignorance. Syria (failed state for 50 years), Cameroon (is that a country??) and Pakistan. Shabaaaaaash!!

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  • Awais
    May 6, 2014 - 8:30PM

    Let’s blame the whole world again…it’s never our fault, The world is against us. We are a bunch of shameless people and now we take pride in our shamelessness.

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  • Billoo
    May 6, 2014 - 9:48PM

    In every other country around the world children under 5 years of age are administrated polio drops, but in Pakistan people of all age need it. How funny would be the scrnes at the pakistani airports from now on when kids as well as their parents, chachijaan, chacha, grandma, grandpa, fuffa, fuffo, mama, mamijaan etc. etc. will be given polio drops simultaneously. Hahaha…

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  • unbelievable
    May 6, 2014 - 10:42PM

    Speaking to the media outside the
    Parliament House, Tarar stated that
    the government would file an appeal
    against it.

    What possible grounds do you have to make an appeal? Are you going to blame it on Afridi? Why should the rest of the World place itself at risk because of your incompetence/neglect?

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  • Atif
    May 6, 2014 - 11:59PM

    If the current government had any concern for the welfare of the people of the country they would have at least responded to this properly. I fail to understand why our government and people think that metro buses and bridges are more important than human life wake up Pakistan human life is priceless. Even Afghanistan is tackling polio better than us at the moment.

    The dirty politics in our country is tearing the nation apart

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  • Dr.Shafique
    May 7, 2014 - 1:56AM

    I suppose Pakistan will soon become a planet by itself called “Polioistan” which no foreign traveler will enter and from where no traveler will be allowed to enter any part of the world. The joke is that even nationals of countries such as Somalia, Yemen and others, which have polio infection cases, used to walk in and out of Pakistan through the many mountain passes are no longer coming in: their numbers have dropped to a trickle. Is it possible for the NS government to get tourists from countries like North Korea, Sudan and other rogue nations by offering them free air tickets and hotel rooms? We can then claim that our tourism industry is booming!

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  • Dr Muhammad Faheem Belharvi
    May 7, 2014 - 10:05AM

    it is also another conspiracy against Pak to malign its image..

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  • Mk
    May 7, 2014 - 3:31PM

    The polio virus spreading from Pakistan into other countries are not passing through airports. These go along with paksitan’s export of terrorists to places like Syria and Yemen who I am sure don’t fly on airplanes.Recommend

  • Riaz Murtaza
    May 7, 2014 - 5:08PM

    The authorities in Pakistan must do all the necessary to eradicate Polio from the country.
    Let the Imams of all Masjids in the country do the job to convince the people to get vaccinated.

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  • Strategic Asset
    May 7, 2014 - 6:25PM

    @Proud Pakistani: Thanks for complimenting our polio program. I am sure Pakistan can learn from our indigenous low-cost model of vaccination delivery which we are now planning to extend to other immunization.

    Not sure how much of a role IT played in this, but full credit must go to the army of volunteers who trudged through villages of India and came up with creative solutions to drive the PULSE and other polio campaigns.

    Not to drag Pakistan down, but I wouldn’t want to be a polio drop administrator in Pakistan even in my worst nightmare because one can get killed there for performing this noble gesture.

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