New Delhi, May 17 – Here’s yet another example of how ugly terrorism can get: Health workers in Pakistan’s restive Khyber tribal region are administering polio drops to children below 10 years of age under army protection.
The reason is quite simple, yet heart-rending: Militants’ activities in the region have rendered Malikdin Khel – the region where the polio-vaccination drive is underway – volatile and a no-go area for the past some time.
Under cover of the army and Frontier Corps, health workers on Thursday administered the vaccine to children in Malikdin Khel. An official said that under each phase, 75,900 children had to be immunised against polio. At present, the fourth phase is in progress. Despite adverse circumstances, the polio campaign has achieved 60 per cent of its target so far, a report said.
About 120,000 children have been vaccinated in various parts of Khyber since the campaign started in 2012. Wazir Akbar of the National Staff Transmission of Polio in Khyber tribal area said that polio drops were administered to about 26,878 children during the current phase, which started on May 6. The drive will go on till the end of this month. Akbar added that “the army and the Frontier Corps (FC) were providing security”.
He said the situation in Bara had improved as only two polio cases were reported so far in 2014, as compared to 14 in 2013. The Khyber tribal area, especially Bara, remained inaccessible to polio workers due to terrorist threats. Pakistan will put into effect from June a WHO recommendation that requires all travellers from this south Asian country to carry a polio vaccination certificate.