The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered an investigation after a female prisoner serving a sentence for murder in Karachi claimed her daughter had contracted polio in the jail.
Convict Naseeban Khatoon told the SC that her daughter, who lives with her in Karachi central prison, was not given polio vaccination drops and caught the crippling virus. The SC ordered an enquiry into the case and instructed all the country’s provinces to disclose whether polio drops are being administered in their prisons.
Pakistan is one of only three countries around the world where polio remains endemic, but years of attempts to stamp it out have been badly hit by opposition from militants and attacks on immunisation teams.
Cases have soared to a 14-year high in Pakistan this year, with 235 confirmed infections as of this month – more than double the total for the whole of 2013.
Khatoon first raised the issue in 2009 when she applied for permission to take her daughter out of the prison for treatment, but the SC has only now heard the case.
Shafi Mohammad Chandio, Additional Advocate General for Sindh, said the court sought a reply from officials in the province within 15 days.
“The Sindh police chief has told us in writing that he has already started an investigation into whether the prison doctor had administered polio drops to the girl,” he said.
A senior Sindh official said on condition of anonymity that there were very few children in prison, and vaccination teams did not visit them since they lacked data about child inmates.