Peshawar: Hundreds of thousands of children will be deprived in the upcoming three-day anti-polio campaign in the country, despite hectic efforts by the government to persuade the warlords of South and North Waziristan to lift a ban on polio vaccinations.
An official in the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) has confirmed that the two agencies will not be included in the July 16-18 campaign, depriving a total of 227,654 children - 145,845 in North Waziristan and 81,809 in South Waziristan, reports The Express Tribune.
"Negotiations are under way involving the government and ulema of the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF), but we have still not cleared the way to send polio teams in North and South Waziristan, thus we have deferred the campaign in these areas," Deputy Director of EPI, FATA, Sahibzada Khalid said.
On June 16, a senior Taliban Commander in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, had issued a decree against anti-polio drives, which was followed by a similar decree by Mullah Nazir, commander of his own faction of the Taliban in South Waziristan. Both warlords linked the anti-polio campaign in the tribal agencies to cessation of US drone attacks.
The three-day anti-polio campaign will kick off on July 16 in the country with EPI Fata having a target to vaccinate a total of 751,060 children below the age of five years.
World Health Organisation (WHO) FATA coordinator Dr Sarfaraz said: "We have not received any information from FATA secretariat but there is ample chance that the virus may spread to other parts of the country if the campaign is not carried out in North and South Waziristan agencies."