LANDIKOTAL: The residents of Bazaar Zakhakhel in Landikotal tehsil of Khyber tribal district have announced to boycott the upcoming polio vaccination campaign in protest against closure of trade route with Afghanistan.

The Bazaar Zakhakhel welfare committee members Haji Ajar Khan, Haji Marjan and others said the trade route of Sasobi Kandao had been closed last year which has contributed to further increase in joblessness, poverty and other problems in the area. They said it was a great and easy route through which the people from both sides used to carry their luggage while traveling on foot.

The local residents said they are taking the extreme step of polio vaccination boycott in a hope that the government would finally wake up to listen their grievances. They said the boycott would continue till acceptance of their demands.

In the upcoming polio vaccination campaign, a target of vaccinating 11,000 children in Bazaar Zakhakhel has been set. District Health Officer (DHO) Tariq Hayat said talks are being held with the elders of Bazaar Zakhakhel and the deputy commissioner is also taking interest in the issue. He said work is being done on resolution of genuine problems of the area, but it would take time.

Preparations have been finalized for the massive polio vaccination campaign in KP which will kick off tomorrow (Monday) during which around 6.4 million children below the age of five years would be administered polio vaccine.

The five-day campaign would be carried out by 29,000 teams comprising well trained anti-polio workers to successfully achieve the target. KP Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said special emphasis would be laid on areas where refusal cases are higher besides strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) against coronavirus.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from the crippling disease. With each vaccination of children below the age of five years, their protection against the virus is increased. No vaccination means more vulnerability to the virus particularly in Pakistan where it is endemic.

Currently, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world which have not fully eradicated polio. The main cause behind the emergence of so many polio cases is refusal of parents to cooperate with the vaccination team.

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