Over 4,000 polio refusal cases in Pakistan

Islamabad: Over 4,000 cases of polio vaccination refusal were recorded in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, the media reported on Monday.

According to Dr. Syed Saifur Rehman, coordinator of the Emergency Operation Cell in Balochistan, the list of parents refusing vaccine for their children in Quetta, Pishin and Killa Abdullah districts has been thoroughly documented, Dawn online reported.

Rehman held a meeting to review the investigation of newly-emerged polio case in Quetta which brought the total number of cases in Balochistan to five in 2015.

Ghulam Mustafa, father of affected five-year-old girl Gul Afsha, is a medical technician who had never administered polio drops to his children citing religious beliefs. The girl lives on the outskirts of Quetta.

“It is very tragic that a medical technician in Quetta has been refusing vaccination for his children. It has resulted in a life-long paralysis of his daughter,” Dr. Rehman told reporters.

He said it is unimaginable that a medical technician who often deals with suffering patients could refuse administration of polio vaccine to his children. “I think it is an offence,” he said.

The father should have been jailed because he was the sole person responsible for paralysing his five-year-old daughter, according to Balochistan’s ECO coordinator.

“The fight against the polio is very difficult and we have to win this war,” Rehman said.

Rehman said there were 44 percent refusal cases out of total 25 polio virus cases reported in 2014 in Balochistan, while this year three out of five reported cases are refusals which make more than 50 percent.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world which have not been able to eradicate the polio-virus while no case of polio virus was reported in Nigeria over a year.

Refusal on the part of some parents and attacks at polio workers and volunteers remain the main reasons behind failure to eliminate the virus. Polio campaigns are usually postponed and suspended owing to security reasons in Quetta.

The government had declared a polio emergency throughout the province to root out the crippling virus from the region.