Pakistan to set up polio vaccination points at airports

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 18:12
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Islamabad: Pakistan Tuesday announced that it will set up mandatory polio immunisation points at its international airports, a day after the WHO imposed travel restrictions on it.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said all Pakistanis and foreigners living there for four weeks needed polio vaccination before going out of the country.

Minister of state for national health services Saira Afzal Tarar said the government was making all efforts to make the country polio free.

"We are planning to set up vaccination centres at all international airports to help travelers meet with the conditions of WHO," she said.

Analysts, however, say the move would not help since WHO directions clearly state that vaccination has to be taken at least four weeks in advance. Airport vaccinations are allowed only on emergency basis.

Tarar informed the National Assembly that a special meeting has been called tomorrow to discuss the WHO restrictions.

She said the country's anti-polio campaign was hampered by attacks by the Taliban that have killed several volunteers and policemen accompanying them as part of security details.

Islamists allege that that US spies get mixed with the polio workers to get information about insurgents.

They also allege that anti polio oral drops is a western conspiracy to reduce fertility among Muslims to check demographic changes.

Leading Pakistani clerics have already declared that polio medicine was safe and not against Islam.

Tarar said a leading cleric from Saudi Arabia will soon visit Pakistan to convince the militants to stop attacks on the polio teams.

According to the WHO, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012. It has also recorded 59 of the world's 74 cases this year.

WHO said Pakistan along Syria and Cameroon were the three major threats for exporting poliovirus to other countries.

PTI

First Published: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 18:12

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