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May 6, 2019

There should be no politics over polio, says Punjab health minister


May 6, 2019

LAHORE: Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has said collective and concrete efforts are needed to eradicate polio but the issue shouldn’t be politicised.

Talking to The News exclusively regarding the demand raised from an Opposition MPA through a resolution submitted in Punjab Assembly for the resignation of the health minister for three polio cases reported in Lahore, Dr Yasmin Rashid stated that that resolutions were not the solution to the problem. “Over the years, none of the governments have played a positive role they should have played towards the elimination of polio virus, if the Outfall Drain is showing polio virus, the question arises were the previous anti-polio campaigns effective” said the health minister.

“We must come above politics and try to understand that very soon we might be isolated in the world just because collaborated acts were not done in past over this issue. Rather than doing politics, we should try to get united and devise a strategy for eliminating this killer virus,” said Dr Yasmin Rashid.

She stated that major complaints concerning the polio virus were reported in the ‘drainage areas’ of Lahore during the last 13 years. The health minister said that that the Outfall Drain of Lahore comprised major part of Lahore, including Data Ganj Baksh Town, Samnabad, part of Allama Iqbal Town. The samples collected from this ‘drainage area’ had shown positive virus in last 13 years,” she added.

She stated if effective polio campaigns had been run in the past, at least some results would have been yielded. The Punjab health minister also stated that after coming to power, the present government in Punjab had launched around a half a dozen polio vaccination campaigns, particularly in these areas that fell in drainage areas.

She said the government was doing its best to protect the population from the virus but still every individual and segment of society had the role to play. Dr Yasmin Rashid, who has been associated with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for almost a decade and an active campaigner over health-related issues before July 2018 general elections, stated that polio teams faced different challenges, mainly the lack of cooperation from families who were reluctant to administer polio drops to their children.

She said that a polio case reported in Lahore belonged to a family that was living in three-storey building and was found hiding their children from the polio teams. She said Lahore was a highly populated area and in some cases, it really became hard for the teams to administer polio vaccine when details of children weren’t provided to them by some of the families.

However, she said the Health Department was launching a new campaign through which the media would be requested to hold programmes regarding polio awareness to sensitise people about the virus and significance of the vaccination.

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