Pakistan

PESHAWAR – As desperate times call for desperate measures, authorities in Pakistani city of Peshawar yesterday issued warrants for arrest of 88 parents for refusing vaccination of their children below age of five.

The harsh move has drastically reduced refusal cases, despite calls by partner organisations that it can negatively affect the immunisation campaign.

Pakistan is one of the two remaining countries in the world where poliomyelitis (polio) is still categorized as an endemic viral infection, the other being Afghanistan. As of October 2015, there have been 38 documented cases of wild poliovirus in Pakistan in the past year.

The administration continues to arrest parents for refusing to administer anti-polio vaccine to their children despite calls by partner organizations that it can negatively affect the immunization campaign.

The officials of the district administration and revenue staff along with polio teams are carrying polio immunization campaign and have brought down the number of polio drops refusal cases to few hundreds.

The joint teams are making all out efforts to persuade those parents, which are refusing the administering of polio drops to their children, but despite their hectic efforts they are not ready.

Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Riaz Khan Mehsud has taken stern notice of the matter and issued arrest warrants of such parents under 3MPA.

However, partner organizations fear registration of FIRs to affect anti-polio drive. “First we send jirga to the parents to convince them on vaccination of their children. We also deploy experts to alley suspicions of people about the OPV,” said an assistant commissioner in one of the southern districts, where arrests have led to decrease in refusal cases.

He added that there was no immunization-specific law and administration booked the parents under Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.