Seven private schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province have been sealed for inciting mass hysteria against polio drive campaign, along with discouraging parents to cooperate with polio workers.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government found that the administration of these schools was responsible to spread apprehensions against the drive, along with maligning the cause of the anti-polio drive, said Babar Bin Atta, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Programme, in a tweet on Wednesday. The schools were responsible for “inciting innocent parents to violence resulting in attacks on polio teams and mass hysteria,” he added.
Pakistan is one of the three countries, other than Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio is still an endemic. Moreover, in recent years multiple attacks have been carried out by militants on different polio vaccination teams, opposing as well as accusing the drops of infertility.
Moreover, on April 22, protestors burnt down a medical health facility in the province, amid reports of multiple children allegedly falling sick after consuming the anti-polio vaccine. This protest led to the suspension of the drive and post-campaign evaluation of the government, which involved 260,000 polio workers and aimed at administering polio drops to almost 39 million children under the age of five.
As per officials the situation in the KPK is alarming, as 10 out of 15 polio cases in 2019, are from the province. Babar Bin Atta in an official letter to the provincial authorities earlier this month, warned the authorities about the seriousness of issue, demanding for the need to work collectively. However, the responsibility rested on the shoulders of their respective district management, he added.
Attacks on polio teams have claimed 68 lives since December 2012. Earlier this month, a member of the monitoring team was gunned down after he had a verbal brawl at a village near Pak-Afghan border. In 2012, three people lost their lives, while in 2014 five workers, including a female polio worker lost their lives in the Qayyumabad area.