|Shakil Afridi had no role in Pak polio campaign: WHO|
|Amin Ahmed |
Publication Date : 20-07-2012
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday said that Dr Shakil Afridi was never part of any genuine or fake polio vaccination programme in Pakistan and noted that baseless reports linking him to anti-polio efforts had served to damage the ongoing immunisation campaign in the country.
The WHO said it was wrongly claimed that Dr Afridi had used polio vaccine to track down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
“It has been claimed, in fact, that Dr Afridi was inoculating hepatitis vaccine with syringes and was collecting blood samples in the neighbourhood for genetic investigations,” the WHO said.
“The misinformation has unfortunately raised doubts on real objectives of the polio eradication campaigns, hampering the efforts of dedicated polio staff.”
The WHO clarified that not only Dr Afridi was not part of the polio eradication programme but also that polio vaccine was administrated with only two drops in the mouth of children below five years of age and, therefore, did not allow collection of blood samples.
The government health departments along with the WHO, Unicef and Rotary International were trying their level best to clear the misconceptions and make people understand that polio vaccination was crucial for their children’s wellbeing, it said.
“The situation is now gradually improving with the help of religious leaders and clerics who are playing an instrumental role in clearing misconceptions about the polio vaccine and its impact on children’s health.”