Dec 27, 2011

Anti-polio drive: Health officials face the music for negligence.

HARIPUR: A lady health worker was sacked, while five paramedics and a ward orderly were suspended for professional misconduct during the recent anti-polio drive in Haripur, said Haripur Executive District Officer (EDO) Syed Mazhar Shah on Friday.

He said he conducted surprise checks on anti-polio teams in different parts of Nara Amazai union council, during which he found some officials neglecting their duties.

He said five paramedics and a ward orderly were suspended without pay for  three days for misconduct. “They would use delaying tactics and would reach the target areas two hours late,” said Shah.

He also found Taj Bibi, a lady health worker, and Muhammad Saeed, a medical officer, to be absent from their duties at Nara Amazai Rural Health Centre. He issued a notice to Saeed to explain his absence from duty and requested the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) director general health to take disciplinary action against him.

The EDO said that around 19,000 children in eight high-risk union councils in Haripur were given anti-polio vaccines during the recent four-day campaign.

Shah said 500 children from a local seminary had refused to take the vaccination, following which he held a meeting with the seminary’s administration and convinced them to vaccinate the children.

According to reports, K-P and Federally Administered Tribal Areas have the highest incidence of polio in the country, with over half of the cases reported from the region. Even though security issues, inaccessibility and refusal from parents are stated to be the main challenges behind efficient vaccination, negligence of polio teams is also a hindrance in eliminating the crippling disease. According to sources, over 350,000 children are missed out every year in anti-polio campaigns.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2011.