Paramedics in Pak dist announce boycott of polio, Covid vax campaign

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Peshawar– After a polio health worker and at least two security officials were shot dead by unknown assailants during a polio vaccination drive, more than 2,000 health workers, who are assigned to administer polio and Coronavirus vaccines in North Waziristan district of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP), have announced a boycott of the campaign due to lack of security provided to them by the government.

Hundreds of paramedics, health workers and polio vaccination campaign members staged a protest outside the Miranshah Press Club, demanding security to their health workers and vaccinators, who go out in a door-to-door campaign vaccination drives in security risk areas like the North Waziristan district.

Protesters chanted anti-government slogans and demanded security and compensation for the dead and injured health workers, who have been targeted by assailants.

“We work in areas, which have been highly sensitive and dangerous for polio and coronavirus health workers. Our health workers have been attacked, targeted, killed and assaulted many times. The government has failed to provide us ample security and has also failed to compensate those who have laid their lives in the line of duty in the past,” said a protester.

Protesting health workers carried placards with slogans such as “Protest the Polio Worker”, “Announce Compensation Package for the martyrs and the injured”, as they raised slogans in favour of their demands, vowing to boycott the polio and coronavirus vaccination campaign until their demands are met by the government.

“Our responsibility is to administer polio vaccine and the responsibility of the government is to maintain law and order. Police and district administration have failed to arrest the attackers and have also failed to protect the polio workers,” said Malik Jalaluddin, President, All Paramedics Association.

Jalaluddin said the demands of protection of workers and compensation for the injured and martyred is a legitimate demand, which has been pending with the government for some time. He said he will not risk thousands of lives of his workers and will not leave them to the mercy of those, who target and kill them.

“If the government cannot protect the polio workers, then we will not take part in the vaccination campaigns,” said Malik Jalaluddin.

“Our boycott will continue until the government takes concrete steps for improvement in the law and order,” he added.

Pakistan is the only country after Afghanistan, with deposits of polio virus. In the past, militant groups have not only targeted and killed dozens of polio workers but have also threatened locals, especially in the tribal areas of Pakistan, of dire consequences of they let their children get polio vaccinations.

At the moment, there are at least 900 paramedics and at least 1,700 class four employees, assigned to administer the vaccination drives in the North Waziristan district. However, with targeted attacks on health workers continuing unabated, polio workers have refused to be part of the vaccination drive. (IANS)


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