Tuesday Apr 23, 2019
PESHAWAR: An attempt to sabotage the countrywide anti-polio vaccination drive was exposed when it was revealed that a group of conspirators faked the illness and hospitalisation of children in Mashokhel village to spread panic and misinformation about the polio campaign.
In videos circulating on the social media, a man can be seen instructing young boys, who are in madrassa uniform, to lie on hospital beds and pretend to be unconscious, and the children can be seen following his orders.
In another video, the same man is spreading lies regarding the fake and baseless news of deaths of children due to the anti-polio vaccination.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday launched a three-day anti-polio campaign, in which thousands of polio workers were tasked to visit schools and madrassas to administer the oral anti-polio vaccine to children under five years of age.
In the midst of the campaign, around 40 children from a school in Mashokhel village were brought to a hospital with complaints of diarrhea, nausea and headache. As the news of the children’s supposed illness spread like wildfire in Peshawar and nearby areas, panicked parents started rushing their children to hospitals.
The Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and the Hayatabad Medical Complex were soon flooded with anxious parents bringing in their children.
Despite assurances from the authorities that the anti-polio vaccine was completely safe, enraged residents broke down the main gate and set fire at the Mashokhel Hospital in Peshawar.
Police have arrested the man spreading lies in the videos above, and have registered an FIR against a total of 12 suspects accused of vandalising property and sabotaging the anti-polio campaign.
"Raids being conducted to get all of them arrested. I am in touch with Peshawar Police Chief & following up on all updates. InshaAllah not a single one will be spared," Babar Atta, focal person to the prime minister on polio eradication, said in a tweet.
Speaking to Geo News earlier, Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI) Coordinator Kamran Afridi said, "There can be no reaction to the anti-polio vaccine. The vaccine was not expired and the condition of all the children is normal."
Afridi further said, "Doctors also said the children did not get a reaction from the vaccine. There are parents in Mashokhel who do not want to administer the drops to their children and they could have fallen sick owing to other reasons."