In a bid to fight polio in the province, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police officials said on Friday that they have started issuing arrest warrants for parents refusing to vaccinate their children, The New York Times reported.
“There is total determination on our part. We shall convince parents of the good of vaccinating their children, but if they refuse, we shall detain them. There is no leniency.”
In other districts of the province, the police has also reported issuing warrants, though no official figure was released.
“The number keeps fluctuating,” said a senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We are applying different laws. You have to resort to coercive measures when persuasion fails.”
The official further said that “the application of laws is working. Some parents readily agree to vaccinate children to avoid detention. Others take a few days behind the bars to see reason. We take an affidavit from them and let them go if they bring kids for vaccination.”
In 2014, 306 new polio cases were reported in the country, breaking the previous record of 199 new cases in 2000.
“This was due to complacency and a very bad security situation,” said head of the government’s polio monitoring group in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah.
Shah said the outbreak of the disease was particularly bad in North and South Waziristan.
The refugees “took the virus with them everywhere they went — in K-P, Balochistan and Sindh,” Shah said. “There was a Ping-Pong, cases popping up here, cases popping up there.”
However, Dr Shah said the recent military operation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) gave officials a chance for polio teams to make progress.
So far, there have been 13 new cases in all of Pakistan this year, 11 of which are from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or Fata.
“We have better access and better monitoring now,” Shah said. “The quality of the campaign has improved. I am confident the cases would come down to less than 100 this year.”
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