PESHAWAR: There are serious allegations against key officials in the polio programme as many are being accused of employing their near and dear ones on important positions without merit.
The latest allegations appeared against the provincial coordinator of Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
He is a BPS-19 officer and was appointed the provincial coordinator EOC Peshawar in September 2019.
According to officials, key position holders in the polio programme had always been enjoying a free hand to hire people of their choice and fire those not to their liking. “Unfortunately, the government is not aware of what’s going on in the polio programme, particularly in the field,” said one official.
Certain new techniques are being introduced in the programme time to time by these officials but they could not eradicate the poliovirus from the province, particularly the provincial capital Peshawar.
According to those who remained in the programme recently, polio eradication had never been the prime objective of certain stakeholders in the immunisation programme.
“Polio programme is one of the best sources of making money from national and international donors. There is no audit in the programme and there are numerous ways to oblige people,” said a senior government official.
In Peshawar, he said, poliovirus had become a headache for the national and international donor organisations and they wanted to interrupt it at any cost.
There were many reasons for this but the major issue was unwilling parents in Peshawar who didn’t want their children to be vaccinated.
“The females, particularly local residents of the city, were preferred to better communicate with unwilling parents and especially with mothers in the community. A private consultancy firm advertised positions of the lady health counsellors and it was mentioned that preference will be given to local residents,” said an official of the programme.
However, according to sources, the EOC coordinator approached relevant officials in the programme and told them to adjust his nominees on all positions.
He said they had explained it to the EOC coordinator that it is already mentioned in the advertisement that local residents would be considered for the positions.
They alleged that he didn’t agree with them.
“The positions were advertised again after a month and this time it was specifically mentioned that only local and Pashto speaking female candidates will be considered for these positions,” he said while sharing copies of the first and second advertisement.
However, the EOC coordinator again approached them and sent a list of seven female applicants who belonged to Nowshera district and had to be adjusted on these positions.
This correspondent obtained the list that the EOC coordinator wished to be appointed.
Besides these positions, another official told The News that recently they had advertised some positions of ward orderly and janitors and the EOC coordinator alone sent them a list of 14 people and directed them to accommodate all of them.
When reached for his comment, the EOC coordinator said he had no idea that only local residents were eligible for the LHC positions.
He had been holding this important position since September 2019 but still claimed he had no idea of the eligibility criteria of the LHCs.
A few minutes later, he said: “I squarely deny this. I have not recommended anybody. People are free to apply wherever they want.”