|code: 329956||Date: 2012/07/18 - 19:47||source: IRNA|
Extremists of Taliban ban deprive thousands of children of polio drive
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - According to an official of the National Polio Eradication Program, a total of 34 million children aged less than five-year will be immunized during the three-day drive with participation of 77,628 houses to house vaccination teams, 5,702 transit vaccination teams on busy bus and railway stations, airports, bazaars and 9,702 fix vaccination posts.
WHO and UNICEF district and lower level staff are assisting monitoring activities in close collaboration with local authorities to reach most of the children in both urban and rural areas.
The campaign started as per schedule in the country minus the restive Waziristan tribal region where Taliban militants banned the campaign to protest against the U.S. drone strikes and their fear that the campaign could be used for espionage.
The Taliban group in North Waziristan announced ban on polio vaccination campaign to protest against the U.S. drone strikes. The group leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar also said that the NGOs can also use the campaign for spying on the militants like a tribal Dr Shakil Afridi who had helped the CIA reaches Osama bin Laden.
An official in the tribal region, Fawad Khan, says that the ban will affect over two hundred thousands children in Waziristan, where military operation and Taliban attacks have badly affected normal life of the people over the past few years.
Local authorities in North Waziristan have convened a jirga or council of tribal elders in Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan, on Tuesday to convince Taliban to lift the ban on polio vaccination.
Tribal elders say that the jirga has been convened but there are little chances in Taliban strand.
Officials say that 11 polio cases have been reported in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) this year, Dr Janbaz Afridi, Deputy Director of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said.
Officials say that nine polio cases have been detected in Khyber tribal region and one each from North Waziristan and South Waziristan Agencies.
Officials say that poor law and order problem in some other parts of tribal regions and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and refusal of parents had deprived many children of polio drops in different parts of the province and tribal areas.
But now officials say there is significantly decrease in refusal cases owing to effective advocacy campaigns and holding of vigorous immunisation drives. After India obtained polio-free status, the World Health Organisation and other donors' agencies are giving top focus now on three endemic countries -- Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria to eradicate this disease completely.