Over 16,000 families refuse polio vaccination in Pakistan

  • PTI, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2015 21:05 IST

Over 16,000 families in Pakistan refused to vaccinate their children against polio during the first two days of the latest round of polio campaign in the country, as community opposition and Taliban threats block efforts to eradicate the crippling disease from the country.

The third three-day National Polio Campaign of 2015 started on Monday with the target to vaccinate 35.5 million children below the age of five, but 16,400 families refused to vaccinate their children.

About 6,10,333 children were missed because they were not available when vaccination teams visited their homes, the Dawn reported.

Around 80, 000 teams were formed to vaccinate children at their doorsteps and over 9,000 teams were deputed at fixed centers and over 4,000 at the transit points.

The campaign was planned in 36 districts of Punjab, 25 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 22 districts and 18 towns of Sindh, 30 districts of Balochistan, 10 of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, seven of Gilgit Baltistan, seven agencies and six frontier tribal regions and two districts of Islamabad Capital Territory.

The campaign was postponed in some areas because of different reasons like security, unavailability of workers and weather.

The refusals and security are two main reasons hampering anti-polio drive in Pakistan.

Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar has convened a meeting today to review security arrangements for polio teams.

Pakistan is one of only three countries along with Afghanistan and Nigeria where the polio virus is still endemic.

So far all efforts of the government have failed due to opposition by militants who frequently attack the polio workers and their official deployed for their security.

Islamist militants consider anti-polio vaccines as a Western conspiracy to sterilise Muslims. Scores of health workers in Pakistan have been killed in the last two years as a result.

Last year the World Health Organisation (WHO) imposed travel restriction on Pakistan and on March 4, the world body announced that international travel restriction had been extended for another three months because the country had failed to stop exporting polio virus.

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