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- Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - From Print Edition


PESHAWAR: The former health minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Dr Hussain Al Gezairy has said all pilgrims from Pakistan will receive two drops of the oral polio vaccine upon arrival in the kingdom.


In a statement Dr Gezairy said on Tuesday a few years ago, pilgrims travelling from Nigeria caused an outbreak of the poliovirus in Makkah and four children in Saudi Arab got infected during the hajj season. “We want to ensure that the Saudi children remained protected against the crippling poliovirus”, he stated.


He once again appealed to the Pakistani Taliban, including Hafiz Gul Bahadur, operating in the volatile North Waziristan, Maulvi Nazeer, based in South Waziristan, and Commander Mangal Bagh, operating in the Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency, to support the polio vaccination drive and lift the ban on the anti-polio drive.


“As thousands of Pakistani brothers and sisters embark on the holy journey to perform Hajj, I once again appeal to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Maulvi Nazir and Mangal Bagh to lift the ban on polio immunisation and save the future generations in Pakistan and the Muslim world from becoming victims of this crippling disease,” the former Saudi health minister said in his appeal to the Pakistani Taliban.


Dr Gezairy, who is currently working as an advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for polio eradication, arrived in Pakistan on a three-day visit and is scheduled to leave today.


He said special polio teams had been posted at all the entry points in Saudi Arabia to ensure that the pilgrims arriving for Hajj from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria were vaccinated against the poliovirus. “All the 832 hajj pilgrims arriving at the Holy Land on Wednesday from Peshawar and Islamabad will receive polio drops at Jeddah International Airport,” the ex-Saudi health minister said.Sources in the Health Department said that 95,000 intending pilgrims would be vaccinated against polio.