9 polio cases suspected in NWA, vaccination drive in the doldrums

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At least nine suspected polio cases were reported from North Waziristan Agency (NWA) and sent to Islamabad for further chemical examination.

The press had received reports on Tuesday that 14 suspected polio cases were reported in NWA. The issue was debated in a high-level meeting in Peshawar and samples were despatched to Islamabad for confirmation.

When contacted, Federally Administered Tribal Areas Health Department Deputy Director Dr Fazal Mula and NW Agency Surgeon Dr Mah Jan said so far it was not confirmed that the cases reported were of polio, adding that nine, not 14, children were found paralysed.

They said there was no any polio vaccination drive in NW. However, they said efforts were being made for vaccinating children through transit and mobile teams.

The agency surgeon said that from Thursday, a team will be present at Khajoori checkpost which connects NW with Bannu district. All children below five years, passing through checkpost will be vaccinated, he said.

FATA health officials said the administration and traditional tribal jirgas were trying to convince Taliban militants to allow the resumption of polio vaccination in the area.

A Taliban decree forbids any sort of vaccination in the area.

The polio vaccination drive was badly affected by the arrest of Dr Shakil Afridi by the intelligence agencies. He was accused of helping the United States intelligence agencies to locate the residence of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by launching a fake polio vaccination drive.