Polio vaccine rumours: officials asked to file police complaints

Shastry V. Mallady

MADURAI: The Directorate of Public Health (DPH) on Tuesday instructed health officials in the districts to lodge police complaints against those who assaulted doctors/staff during the pulse polio immunisation drive on December 21.

Official sources here told The Hindu that the DPH had called for an immediate report on the complaints filed against those who had assaulted medical officers/ pharmacists and also damaged PHC property. The communication received from the Director stated: “Inform the medical officers to give police complaint against the persons who assaulted our staff and damaged the PHC. Also, take action against the sources from where the instigation came. Send report urgently.”

Responding to the instructions, health officials in Madurai district have filed three police complaints. According to A. Palanichamy, Deputy Director of Health Services (Madurai district), the copies of police complaints filed in the district are being sent to the Directorate.

“Our staff were assaulted (during the panic reaction) at Kallandiri, Chekkanoorani and Kanjarampettai. A lady doctor and a pharmacist were among those who were assaulted because of the rumours,” Dr. Palanichamy said. The persons who assaulted the PHC staff were identified with support of local people and in cases where it was not possible, a general complaint was filed, he said.

Officials said that strong public confidence-building measures would be initiated as part of ‘crisis management’ before the second round of pulse polio immunisation to be held on February 1 (Sunday).

While the Health Department intends to step up IEC activities (information, education and communication) before the next round of immunisation, the Tamil Nadu Chapter of Indian Academy of Paediatrics has plans to take up joint programmes with the State government.

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