Health authorities in North Waziristan have confirmed that the polio teams were engaged in fake markings which led to the emergence of two polio cases in the district earlier last month.
North Waziristan Additional District Health Officer Dr Shams said that local polio vaccination teams were marking children as immunized without bothering to administer them vaccine.
Earlier last month North Waziristan reported two polio cases, which were first two cases to be reported in the country after a gap of 15 months.
Dr Shams told TNN that both the cases in the district were first since 2019. “The first case was reported from the Essuri area on April 22 while second case was reported from Mir Ali Shah Khadri area on April 30,” he said.
Dr Shams said that two years old girl was crippled by the virus in the second case.
He said that authorities have run an emergency polio campaign in the district after the detection of the cases, wherein the children were given both the injection as well as polio drops.
However, he added both the children were left out in past polio campaigns.
He said that health authorities also held meetings with parents and area elders before the polio campaign. Besides, he added that another campaign will be launched later this month in the area.
Refusal cases in Khadri village
Dr Shams said that Khadri village, with a population of hundreds of children, was facing a refusal issue, He said that parents of the village were not allowing their children to be inoculated or vaccinated.
“During polio campaigns, these parents forced the polio vaccinators to mark their children as vaccinated,” he said. Besides, he added that the locals used to coerce the parents into fake markings.
On the other hand, he added due to security reasons, monitoring rarely bothered to venture into the area. However, he added all the children were vaccinated in the area under the guard of law enforcement agencies during the recent immunization drive.
The official said that type WPV was present in Bannu and its environs for past many years and its presence was also detected in environmental samples collected from the area.
He said the district had reported nine cases earlier in April 2009 while two more cases were reported last month.
Dr Shams appealed the parents to help health department teams in vaccinating their children against the crippling virus.
KP had reported 22 polio cases in 2020; however, no case was reported earlier last year. On the other hand, Pakistan and Afghanistan were only countries in the planet, where polio virus still existed.
Fake markings is posing major hurdle in polio eradication
Former Director General Health KP Dr Ayub Rose said that both the affected children had neither received polio nor other vaccines.
He said that not reporting of positive polio cases over 15 months had given all hope about Pakistan being declared polio free after three years. However, he said that Pakistani people were falling prey to propaganda and not inoculating their children.
Besides, Dr Rose said there was no issue over polio vaccination in over 50 Muslim countries while Bangladesh has not reported any positive case over last 12 years.
Dr Rose said that emergence of polio cases in Pakistan and particularly in Pashtun belt was a worrying sign. “Polio virus has been eliminated from entire world and only existed in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said.
He said that the fake marking was a major issue in polio campaigns.
He said that to overcome this issue, health authorities have introduced a tracking system for southern KP and polio teams are tracked through satellite.
The initiative which has been started in six district has been giving good results, Dr Rose said.
He also appealed to all Pashtuns to inoculate their children against polio virus.