Peshawar, Feb 2: Authorities launched a polio drive in Pakistan’s Peshawar city and adjoining areas Sunday morning amid heavy security, a media report said.
The authorities suspended mobile phone services and banned pillion-riding, citing security reasons. The ban would be effective from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday when the polio vaccine would be administered to children, Dawn News reported.
The polio drive aims to inoculate 800,000 children, aged below five years in Peshawar and adjoining areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Teachers in the province had refused to take part in a polio-vaccination campaign citing low wages and security concerns as the reasons, and agreed to resume the campaign only after the successful negotiations with the government.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Jan 17 had declared Peshawar as the world’s “largest reservoir” of endemic polio and called for urgent action to boost vaccination.
According to the WHO, 80,000 children in Pakistan have not been immunised against polio.
About 22,000 of these children hail from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Efforts to eradicate polio have been seriously hampered by the deadly attacks of militant groups who see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage, and there are also long running rumours about polio drops causing infertility.