Doctors say their children are not sick, just panicked
A mob attacked and set fire to a small hospital in Mashokhel, Peshawar Monday over panic that dozens of children had fallen sick after what people said was the administration of an anti-polio vaccine.
Residents of the area gathered at the gate of the Basic Health Unit Ayubkhel to stage a protest. Demonstrators broke the gate of the clinic as well as its walls and stormed inside. The mob ransacked the property and set it on fire. The police reached the scene and dispersed the mob. Operations SSP Zahoor Afridi said that people grew agitated after rumours spread about the vaccine, which was administered at a private school in the area.
"The situation is now under control," he said.
Someone who saw these developments unfold told SAMAA Digital that at around 9am, polio eradication teams visited a private school to vaccinate the school children. Following the vaccination, the school principal complained that some children got sick. A doctor and the polio eradication officer in the area examined the children and declared them to be alright.
The parents were informed and took their children to the hospital. A Hayatabad Medical Complex spokesperson told SAMAA Digital that they received 78 children from two different schools of Mashokhel and all of them were in stable condition. "Doctors have examined them and they are all fine but panicked," the spokesperson said, adding that parents and attendants with the children were not cooperating with the doctors.
News of the incident spread and people gathered around the BHU to protest. Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Governor Shah Farman directed the health department to conduct an inquiry.
Emergency Operations Center Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Coordinator Kamran Afridi issued a statement saying that the polio vaccine is administered to millions of children in every polio campaign in the country without any adverse effects reported. He said that reports that children from two private schools in Peshawar have fallen sick due to the vaccine are false as the children are said to be in stable condition.
The lots of the vaccine have been checked by health experts and have been found safe and effective, he said, adding that the vaccine lots have been swapped and used in other areas and have been are found effective with no adverse effects.
The anti-polio drive started April 22 across the country and will run till April 24.