PESHAWAR - The anti-polio vaccination drive, which was set to begin in Peshawar on Sunday, was deferred once again for one-week due to insufficient security arrangements and holding of political gatherings in the provincial metropolis on same day.
The JUI-F staged a public meeting on GT Road on the same day for which thousands of police personnel were deputed while dozens of police also escorted PTI’s sit-in in Peshawar against drone strikes, which was also addressed by its President Javed Hashmi on the same day.
The venue for JUI-F rally was GT Road Peshawar and that’s why traffic was converted to alternate routes while police were deployed around the meeting, which was cited as a big reason for not commencing the scheduled anti-polio drive in Peshawar.
“Insaf Health Programme” was scheduled to be launched on Sunday under which more than 0.4 million children in 50 union councils of Peshawar were set to be vaccinated against polio and nine other diseases.
Sources said that proper arrangements for the polio drive were not in place due to which the campaign would not kick off as per earlier announcement. They, however, said that the immunisation drive is expected to begin now next Sunday.
They said that anti-polio campaign has been deferred for one week in Peshawar due to various reasons. According to district administration, anti-polio drive was scheduled to begin in 50 union councils of Peshawar. However, the campaign was postponed for one week. The campaign will kick off next week after ensuring adequate security measures, the administration added.
Earlier, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has requested the education department to help carry out the campaign through teachers, following attacks on polio workers and killing of security personnel, but the teachers refused. However, on Saturday, over 9,000 teachers agreed to start the campaign after holding successful negotiations with the government.
There was a rise in the number of polio cases detected in the province in 2013 as compared to 2012. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on January 17 had declared Peshawar as the world’s ‘largest reservoir’ of endemic polio and called for urgent action to boost vaccination.
INP adds: Coordinator for Peshawar, Extended Programme on Immunisation of Polio, Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, said proper arrangements for the polio drive were not in place due to which the campaign would not kick off as per earlier announcement. He declined to further comment or elaborate on the issue.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Health Department sources said the immunisation drive is expected to begin next week now and around 800,000 children will be administered the anti-polio vaccine, during the drive.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. Efforts to eradicate it have been seriously hampered by the deadly targeting of vaccination teams in recent years.
Militant groups see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage, and there are also rumours about polio drops causing infertility.
Hindu temple guard shot dead in Peshawar
A policeman performing duty as a guard outside a Hindu temple was shot dead by two unknown gunmen in Peshawar here on Sunday,
The attack, which occurred in the main area of Handa Bazaar area, was the latest case of target killing in Peshawar. The attackers came to the site of the temple on bike and after opening fire made their escape successfully.
“It appears to be a militant attack. The gunmen killed the lone policeman on duty outside the Hindu temple and then escaped,” Faisal Mukhtar, a senior police official said. In November last year, a policeman standing guard outside a Pentecostal church in Peshawar was also shot dead by unknown gunmen on Bara road area, jurisdiction of Sarband Police Station.