Hindrances in polio eradication
The polio eradication drives could not achieve the desired results as 49 new cases have been reported across the province of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Health Minister Dr.Ihtisham Inam Ullah chaired a meeting which decided for the formation of committee to work out recommendations for effective polio control and District Health Officers were directed to carry out mass awareness campaigns to motivate parent for polio vaccination of their children.
Out of 49 polio cases 30 have been reported from the district of Bannu alone. Previously polio vaccination was secretively opposed in a 12 union councils of this district by a handful of clergy. But now the traders have openly come out against it by linking the polio vaccination with the federal government taxation policy of documenting the informal sector. The traders have taken a stance that they will allow administering polio drops to children only when the government reverses its decision of filing of tax returns by traders for the levy of fixed amount of tax on them.
It is totally flabbergasting as to why this issue is not sorted out once and for all by the chief executive of the province through a cabinet decision by actively involving the district administration in the polio eradication campaign instead of reprimanding and bashing the District Health Officers. It may be recalled that total and stiff resistance had been shown by the people of Jani Khel area of Bannu District against the Smallpox” vaccination programme in 1970. But after the persuasive efforts and punitive action by the District Administration of Bannu, the anti-Smallpox vaccination programme was implemented smoothly.
It is pertinent to mention that polio vaccination campaigns went on smoothly during the provincial government of Mutahida Majlis Amal (MMA) from 2003 to 2007 due to active support of ulema and religious schlors. In addition to holding largely attended seminars in support of polio vaccination, the Pulpits of mosques were also used as focal points for educating and molding people’s attitude towards its inevitability for saving the children from physical disability. The efforts of religious circle were effectively buttressed with a sustained mass awareness campaign through mass media. The district of Bannu is the strong bastion of JUI (F) and the heavy weights like Maulana Fazlu Rehman and Akram Khan Durrani can provide the required support to build public opinion for polio vaccination and remove the hindrance that impact it.