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Friday, 1 February 2013

Unwavering resolve: Anti-polio drive underway in Charsadda amid tight security

SHABQADAR:  District health authorities resumed their anti-polio campaign in Shabqadar tehsil of Charsadda district amid strict security to ensure the safety of polio workers.

Policemen and paramilitary troops escorted polio teams to provide cover, said Assistant Commissioner Hazrat Ali, adding that some teachers have refused to take part in the immunisation drive and have been replaced by officials of the district revenue department.
Ali said disciplinary action will be taken against teachers who have refused to take part in the drive after consulting officials of the education department. “All available resources will be utilised to immunise each and every child.”
The district in-charge of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Dr Farhad Khan said more than 200 teams have been constituted, particularly to administer vaccines to children who were left out during earlier campaigns.
The presidents of two teachers unions, Malgari Usatazan and Primary Teachers Association Shabqadar, said teachers were reluctant to take part in the drive as they were receiving threats.
“It is the responsibility of the health department to perform their duties, not of the teachers,” said Primary Teachers Association Shabqadar’s chief Fazal Hameed.
Presidents of both unions also held the view that annual examinations were just around the corner, and students will suffer if teachers participate in anti-polio campaigns.

Many volunteers opted out of anti-polio drives after nine people including a lady health worker along with her driver were gunned down in Charsadda and other parts of the country in December 2012.
As a result, health authorities were forced to suspend the campaign across the district while a clandestine immunisation drive was carried out in Peshawar earlier this month.
A police official protecting polio workers in Swabi was also shot dead by unidentified assailants during a door-to-door immunisation drive in Gullu Dheri village of Swabi district on Tuesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2013.
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