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March 13, 2019

KP govt to block CNICs of parents refusing polio vaccination


March 13, 2019

PESHAWAR: Frustrated by the ever-growing refusal cases, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Tuesday decided to block the computerised national identity cards (CNICs) of the parents refusing polio vaccines to their children.

It was decided at a meeting with Chief Secretary Muhammad Saleem Khan in the chair. Speaking at the meeting, the chief secretary proposed strict action against the polio refusals to effectively handle the increasing number of refusals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Prime Minister Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta, Secretary Health Dr Farooq, Secretary Education, Secretary Population Welfare, Secretary Home, all Divisional Commissioners, CCPO Peshawar Qazi Jamil, deputy commissioners, Coordinator National EOC Dr Rana Safdar, Team Lead WHO Dr Abdi Rehman, EOC Coordinator KP Kamran Afridi, Director EPI Dr Akram Shah, Team Leads WHO, UNICEF, N-Stops and BMGF were present on the occasion.

According to the insiders in meeting, the chief secretary said the government would block CNICs of all the parents who have been refusing polio vaccines to their children. However, the sources said that Prime Minister Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta didn’t agree with the plan and suggested that rather than taking punitive measures, the government should make a strategy to raise awareness among the parents about the crippling disease and importance of the vaccine. He suggested accountability of government servants and thousands of highly paid UN staff.

Babar Bin Atta also discussed performance indicator and the chief secretary authorised the deputy commissioners to ensure accountability all tiers of the polio programme including UN staff.

In KP, according to officials of the Health Department, more than 100,000 parents have been refusing polio vaccines to their children for various reasons. The chief secretary said that the provincial government was committed to eradicating polio. He said despite multiple challenges remarkable achievements had been made in the fight against polio.

He said that polio eradication is a top priority of the government which is why regular meetings of the provincial task force are being held to identify and plug the remaining gaps in realizing the dream of a polio-free region.

The chief secretary directed all divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners to focus on addressing the remaining challenges in polio eradication and deliver the results by ensuring quality campaigns in their respective divisions and districts.

Appreciating the efforts of frontline workers, the chief secretary said that phenomenal achievements have been made in the war against polio due to hard work and dedication of the teams as the number of cases has dropped from 247 in 2014 to 8 in 2018 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that DHOs were an integral part of the PEI programme and directed Secretary Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to hold monthly meetings with district health officers (DHOs) regarding polio and routine immunization so that the technical flaws and weaknesses were addressed locally and the trust of the community was restored.

Muhammad Saleem Khan also emphasised the need for strengthening of routine immunisation in the province, saying that a strong healthcare delivery system would supplement the efforts for polio eradication and cleanse the environment of wild poliovirus circulation.

Showing concern over poor EPI coverage in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the chief secretary said that routine immunization and healthcare delivery system needed overhauling and recommended to link EPI system with Emergency Operations Centers for better results and improved coverage.

Prime Minister Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar bin Atta assured all-out support on behalf of the federal government for stopping wild poliovirus transmission. He said that the district government had a key role in polio eradication and were the real custodians of the programme at the district level.

Babar Bin Atta said that various strategies based on the experiences of other countries that wiped out the menace would be replicated. He said children up to 10 years of age would be immunized against polio from April.

Earlier, all divisional commissioners and EOC Coordinator KP Kamran Afridi briefed the meeting about the current status and challenges of the programme at the divisional and provincial levels.

Kamran Afridi said that Peshawar remained one of the three poliovirus reservoirs in the country and added that three out of the total four polio cases in the country were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa one each from Bannu, Hangu and Bajaur.