New rule requires citizens of countries where polio is endemic to obtain vaccinations before travelling to India.
The Indian High Commission in Islamabad announced on Wednesday that Pakistani citizens traveling to India would be required to obtain polio vaccinations.
In a statement, the High Commission said: “All persons—adults and children—traveling to India from Pakistan after Jan. 30, 2014 are required to obtain Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) at least six week prior to their departure to India.
“The step is being taken to safeguard India’s polio-free status, attained after sustained efforts and investment.”
India was removed from the World Health Organization’s list of countries where polio remains endemic in 2012. Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan are now the only countries in the world where the highly infectious disease remains a problem.
“It is applicable to all travelers from all countries where polio disease is endemic or where cases of polio are reported. It is also applicable to Indian nationals traveling to and from these countries,” the Indian High Commission statement added. “The record for administering OPV may be obtained from an authorized medical center in the format laid out in the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations 2005.”
Last week, religious scholar and so-called “Father of the Taliban” Maulana Sami-ul-Haq issued a fatwa stating that vaccinations were compliant with shariah law and urging parents to immunize their children against polio and other fatal diseases. “Polio, measles, tetanus, hepatitis, quinsy, tuberculosis, whooping cough, pneumonia, meningitis fever, etc. are epidemic diseases. The research carried out by physicians show that the vaccines and drops being used as precautionary measure by minor children and pregnant women are useful against these epidemic diseases,” he said in a one-page document written in Urdu. “There are no side effects of these vaccines. The suspicions and doubts created among people regarding these vaccinations are baseless,” it added.
Pakistan recorded 72 cases of polio this year compared to 58 in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. The bulk of these—50—were from the lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border.