PESHAWAR - Hundreds of children were brought to different hospitals in Peshawar after alleged reaction of anti-polio drops in metropolis, causing fear and panic in the city and violent protest by the parents and relatives of the affected children.

All this began after around 40 students of Dar-ul-Qalam Modal School in Mashokhail village in the city suburbs were rushed to Hayatabad Medical Complex, where they were provided emergency treatment for vomiting and nausea.

The news spread panic and led the parents in other areas too to take their children, who had also been administered the vaccine, to the hospitals.

Beside, Hayatabad Medical Complex, a large number of children were taken to Lady Reading Hospital and other medical facilities mostly from the areas including Kohat Road, Sheikhan, Urmar, Chamkani, Banamari, Kaga-wala and Ring Road.

Authorities denied the claims that the children fell sick due to the anti-polio vaccine and said that the panic

 

 

 and protest was primarily caused by the hearsay. Medics at Lady Reading Hospital said most of the children brought there were fine.

As the news of scores of children falling sick spread, enraged parents and relatives mobbed and ransacked the Basic Health Unit Mashokhel in Badha Beer area. The protesters demolished the boundary wall, broke the main gate and smashed the equipment before setting the facility on fire.

Heavy contingents of police were called but they did not use force to avert possible clashes.

As the panic spread, Edhi ambulances were called in from nearby districts to shift children from the reportedly affected areas of Peshawar to different hospitals, causing a huge rush of kids there.

Over 500 children were brought to the Lady Reading Hospital where the enraged protesters besieged MPA Fazl Ilahi to record their protest.

The health authorities directed the EOC Coordinator to stop the polio campaign until a detailed investigation of the current batch of the polio vaccine.

Khyber Teaching Hospital Spokesman Farhad Khan said that they received as much as 2,000 children but no child was found affected due to anti-polio drops.

 

Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan and Secretary Health Farooq Jamil visited Hayatabad Medical Complex and directed for best possible treatment to the affected children.

Addressing a press conference along with PM’s focal person on polio eradication Babar Bin Atta, Dr Hisham said that it was propaganda against the incumbent government and an effort to create fear among people against the polio vaccination.

The health minister expressed deep concern over the rumours and the panic created by some people and said that no compromise would be made on the health of children.

He informed that they have tested the latest batch of the polio drops and nothing hazardous was found in the vaccine. He said that the parents should not fall for the rumours and immunise their children timely during the immunisation campaign.

KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan also directed immediate enquiry of the incident and directed the health secretary and EOC officers to submit detailed report on the nature of the vaccines.

Governor Shah Farman expressed his anger over the deteriorating health condition of the children and said that a detailed investigation was needed to get to the facts about this reaction to children.

Peshawar Deputy Commissioner constituted a committee to probe the alleged vaccine reaction. The committee chaired by Dr Gul Mohammad Khan includes Shahbaz Khattak, Dr Ikramullah, Dr Anwar, Dr Bawar Shah and Dr Muhammad Shafique.

KP Coordinator Emergency Operations Centre Capt (r) Kamran Afridi has said that anti-polio vaccine is the safest vaccine that has prevented millions of children from disabilities and categorically denied news circulating on media linking children’s sickness with the vaccine.

An official statement issued here on Monday by provincial head of the polio programme, Coordinator EOC, said that the vaccine is administered to millions of children in every polio campaign in the country without any adverse effects reports.

He said that children from two private schools of Peshawar had been reported sick and were unfortunately linked with the polio vaccine, which is not correct as the children are said to be in stable condition.

The vaccine had been checked by the health experts and was found safe and effective, he said. He reiterated that the anti-polio vaccine OPV is safe and effective against polio virus and is being used by all Muslim countries of the world.

Some media reports are wrongly associating OPV with children sickness, he asserted, adding that the doctors were ready to respond to any emergency.

He requested the media to avoid speculating before the real cause of the children’s affected health is determined by medical experts. He added that for safe and healthy future of the children, all parents and guardians should ensure vaccination of their children with OPV during the campaign.