No polio campaign has been conducted in the Mehsud belt of South Waziristan for the last six months because it was not permitted, said the National Coordinator Emergency Operation Center Dr Shahzad Baig.
In an exclusive talk with Express News, Baig revealed that ninety-nine percent of women in North and South Waziristan are not included in the polio teams.
“If women join our teams, the time is not far when this virus will be completely eradicated in Pakistan.”
He said that frontline workers are an asset to this campaign therefore there is a dire need to improve the security situation in this regard.
Recalling Bill Gates visit to Pakistan, Baig said that Gates admitted that Pakistan's polio program is technically very strong and he expressed satisfaction over the polio program but when it comes to people's reactions, we are helpless.
“People have concerns about getting the polio vaccine.
Sometimes they call it an international conspiracy and the other day, call it an anti-Islamic campaign, while this notion is also found to be common that ingestion of polio drops renders males impotent until they reach the age of puberty and their married life may be affected.”
Dr Baig said that Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the only two countries where the polio virus is still present. The virus is present in South KPK in Pakistan. Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Lakki Marwat and Bannu.
“Polio virus is most present in areas bordering Afghanistan where there is regular movement of people from both sides. However, no cases have been reported since the last polio case was reported in September last year.”
Twenty polio cases were reported till September 2022, of which 17 polio cases were reported from a single area of North Waziristan covering only 15 kilometers.
He further said that according to an estimate, so far 62 polio workers and police personnel involved in security during the anti-polio campaign have been martyred, whose families have been paid ten million rupees as financial support while the injured were given from one to five lakh rupees.