Sardar Muhammad Khondai: 

CHAMAN: In a distressing incident, baton-wielding attackers assaulted a polio vaccination team in Chaman, Balochistan, injuring a female polio worker, two Levies personnel, and a policeman. The perpetrators, identified as members of a local sit-in committee, violently disrupted the ongoing anti-polio campaign, exacerbating the difficulties faced by health workers in the region.

The attack occurred while the polio team was conducting their duties as part of the national polio eradication initiative. Deputy Commissioner Raja Athar Abbas reported that the attackers not only assaulted the team but also attempted to seize weapons from the Levies personnel providing security.

Sadiq Khan Achakzai, a key leader of the Chaman sit-in, denied these allegations, stating that the protesters were not responsible for the attack on the polio team. “We only demand that people should not be forced to administer polio drops to their children,” Achakzai remarked.

“Additional personnel have been dispatched to the area to ensure the safety of the polio workers and to maintain the vaccination drive,” Abbas stated. He assured that legal measures would be pursued against those obstructing the polio campaign.

The attack has been widely condemned, with Balochistan government spokesman Shahid Rind denouncing the violence. Rind confirmed that actions are being taken to apprehend the attackers. “An attempt was made to snatch weapons from the Levies personnel and vaccines from the polio team. The district administration is taking strict action against those involved in the attack, and a case will be registered under anti-terrorism laws,” he said.

This incident comes at a crucial time when the anti-polio campaign has been initiated in sixty-six specific districts nationwide, including fourteen in Balochistan. The campaign aims to vaccinate over 1.8 million children against polio. Despite the attack, the campaign will proceed with enhanced security measures. Vaccination efforts in the affected districts are now scheduled to begin on June 8, following a five-day delay caused by the incident.

The assault on health workers highlights the significant challenges in eradicating polio in Pakistan. Ensuring the safety and security of these workers is essential to achieving the goal of a polio-free nation. The government and local authorities must intensify efforts to protect these frontline workers and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.

The polio eradication campaign remains a vital public health initiative, and incidents like these underscore the need for continued vigilance and support for the dedicated individuals working towards this cause.

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Quetta Voice is an English Daily covering all unfolding political, economic and social issues relating to Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province in terms of area. QV's main focus is on stories related to education, promotion of quality education and publishing reports about out of school children in the province. QV has also a vigilant eye on health, climate change and other key sectors.