Families refusing polio drops down by 44pc
23 October, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has witnessed a sharp drop in the number of families refusing to get their children vaccinated against polio, officials said on Monday, while lamenting that nearly half a million children were left unvaccinated.
"The number of refusing families has declined 44 percent from 80,330 during the first national polio round held in January to 45,122 in October," the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN and the government said in a joint statement.
The imams from mosques' loudspeakers have been telling parents not to give polio vaccine to their children, dubbing the campaign a Western 'conspiracy' to reduce the population of Muslims.
"The success achieved notwithstanding, every unvaccinated child constitutes a major challenge," said Elias Durry, a senior coordinator for polio eradication at WHO.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali, a senior adviser to the prime minister, called for reaching out to the children who could not be given polio vaccine drops during the latest campaign.
"We need to take adequate steps to ensure that the number of children missed for reasons other than refusals is also brought down," she said.
There have been 30 confirmed cases of polio in the country this year according to the government, 22 of them in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.