Home > News > Regional
Thursday May 22, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday May 22, 2014 MYT 7:01:38 AM
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, the world’s number one exporter of polio, has seen a rush on vaccines and angry scenes at hospitals after new World Health Organisation guidelines aimed at halting the crippling disease caused widespread confusion.
The WHO declared a “public health emergency” at the start of May after new polio cases began surfacing and spreading across borders from countries including Pakistan.
The disease remains endemic in Pakistan, which is responsible for 80% of polio cases diagnosed around the world this year.
The WHO advised Pakistani authorities to ensure all nationals and long-term residents planning to travel abroad were vaccinated.
But the government’s response has led to a rush on vaccines, confusion about certification and even angry scenes in hospitals.
All this on the eve of the peak summer travelling season, when tens of thousands of Pakistanis go to see relatives or celebrate weddings in countries with large diaspora populations, such as Britain.
Observers say that since the WHO had been holding extensive discussions with the government of Pakistan prior to the recommendations, authorities should have been better prepared for what was coming their way.
In a government paediatric clinic in Islamabad with walls decorated by posters of Minnie Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, an ugly scene breaks out as families line up to receive polio drops.
Staff ask latecomers to return the next day, prompting some who are due to travel the same night to start hectoring the unit’s director – who gives them short shrift.
“It’s not our job to give you the polio vaccine, our job is to look after sick children who arrive at the hospital” the doctor, Tabish Hazir, cried.
“We are doing this only because of the confusion at this stage,” he said, still angry.
Pakistan has undertaken countless UN-backed campaigns in recent years to try to stamp out polio.
But these efforts have been met with hostility in parts of the northwestern tribal areas, where Taliban warlords have banned vaccination as a Western spying plot. — AFP
Tags / Keywords:
Pakistan to probe ‘fake degree factory’
Indonesian envoy dies after Pakistan helicopter crash
Malaysian envoy recalls fatal helicopter crash
DNA samples from Habibah’s siblings needed to identify remains
Wisma Putra says expediting repatriation of remains of envoy's wife
Hon scares off robber at home
DPM: Creativity and strength the way forward
Lorry driver killed in petrol bomb attack
Myanmar rescues first boat
No problem hanging out with George Clooney
Passion and food go hand in hand
U-19 team overcome shaky start to finish in top five of FAM Youth Cup
Maxis cuts prepaid broadband price by 50%
‘Ancestral Home of Tun Tan Siew Sin’ unveils family and Baba Nyonya history
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)