An offer they can’t refuse: ‘Power, gas may be disconnected if parents reject vaccine for kids’
By Umer FarooqPublished: February 22, 2015
The prospect of living without gas and electricity could serve as a catalyst to convince sceptical parents to allow their children to be immunised against vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs).
Although the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and federal governments have joined hands to fight nine such diseases in the province and tribal areas, the K-P administration has also taken steps to convince the public.
There were recent protests in which people threatened not to immunise their children against VPDs if the government failed to ensure stable gas and electricity supplies to their areas. However, the government has decided to fight fire with fire and said those who refuse to vaccinate would have these utilities disconnected.
“Several ideas have been floated, including a particularly interesting one,” said a well-placed source at the K-P Directorate of Health. “The government could enact a law to cut gas and electricity connections of those who refuse to vaccinate their kids,” he told The Express Tribune.
The official, requesting anonymity, was confident every single child would be vaccinated once such a regulation was introduced. He added although the idea was in the initial stages, the interest of stakeholders would see it take practical shape and become a success.
He admitted overall vaccination coverage was low, but said new ideas were being floated and some of them had the potential to combat the rising number of polio cases and other diseases.
The health directorate official said that the idea for disconnecting gas and electricity connections will not only be implemented during Sehat ka Ittehad but on a regular basis during campaigns in the province.
“Sehat ka Ittehad is a two-year plan being carried out jointly by the K-P and federal governments,” he said. “However, the provincial administration’s solo campaigns are not time bound and that is why we are focusing on implementing ideas permanently.”
He added the objective behind ideas such as disconnecting the gas and electricity of those refusing essential life-saving vaccination is to ensure children stop falling prey to nine VPDs targeted by Sehat ka Ittehad and routine vaccination initiative.
When contacted, K-P Health Services Director General Dr Parvez Kamal told The Express Tribune his ministry was putting all its efforts and resources into eradicating diseases which pose serious threats to children. He also hoped the general public would benefit from the free-of-cost facilities at government hospitals.
“Yes, we have some very intelligent people in the health sector and different ideas are being tabled to prevent children from contracting diseases such as polio, which the provincial government plans to eliminate at all costs,” said Kamal.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2015.