A new perverted and evil Jihad that Taliban forcibly administer! Polio has a deadly sting!
Politically-driven cruel fanatics have politicised the debilitating disease of polio causing immense harm to blameless children. 'Sacrosanct evil' led resentment against the West by Muslim fundamentalists is the chief reason in the breakdown of immunization programs against polio in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan North is one exception, apart from seclusion of districts due to security sanctuaries, one of the prime reasons for lack of immunisation is unwillingness from the parents, rising from rumours that polio drops make children impotent and infertile. These rumours first went in full swing when Maulana Fazlullah, leader of a banned militant organisation and an influential religious cleric in the tribal areas, launched a campaign against polio vaccination through his daily sermons. Sermons through radio and mosque loudspeakers denounced polio vaccination as an American ploy to sterilise and reduce the population of Muslims.
This diffusion has resulted in new cases of polio in previously polio-free districts. The local Taliban have issued fatwas disapproving inoculation as an American strategy to neuter Muslim populations. The issue has given fresh ammunition to Islamist preachers who for years have claimed foreign health workers are spies and urged people to shun vaccination campaigns.
Unluckily and regrettably these rumours became endemic when Pakistan military intelligence in 2011 July detained a local doctor, Shakeel Afridi, on charges of involvement with the reportedly fake vaccination campaign, supposedly involving vaccine against hepatitis B. Pakistan officials claimed that the campaign was an attempt to get DNA samples from bin Laden’s family to confirm his location in a house in Abbottabad. Officials familiar with the bin Laden operation say the CIA did indeed institute a mock vaccine program with a local doctor who had previously been an informant in the tribal areas. The plan was to acquire DNA from residents of the Abbottabad compound as they got a vaccine inoculation, helping confirm bin Laden’s presence there. The United Nations reported that a phony vaccination campaign conducted to help hunt down Osama bin Laden has caused a backlash against international health workers in some parts of Pakistan and has impeded efforts to wipe out polio in the country. This is a lame excuse, even without Bin Laden campaign the problem is far deeply rooted and precedes the operation; this is a result of ignorance and discriminating religious fundamentalism.
The widespread false notion spread by extremists is that immunization is an effort to avert the 'determination and will of Allah, if Allah wants the crippling debilitating disease as a destiny and predestination of the new born who are we to prevent it,' that is the way reason goes in Talibenised hinterlands. The Taliban have some years ago assassinated vaccination officials, including Abdul Ghani Marwat, who was the head of the government’s vaccination campaign in Bajaur Agency in the Pakistani tribal areas, as he was on his way back from gathering of religious clerics.
'The Guardian' reports that 'militancy in Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas (Fata) has triggered a different kind of ordeal; the resurgence of polio or infantile paralysis – a potentially fatal and paralysing disease that mostly affects children, pregnant women and the elderly. Being one of the four countries where polio is still endemic, it has become a cause of concern for neighbouring countries such as China where a recent case of wild polio virus (WPV1) was genetically linked to Pakistan.' Epidemiologists have detected spread of wild poliovirus from polio-endemic districts in Afghanistan, most of which are located in the southern region of this country bordering Pakistan, to tribal areas of Pakistan. In 2007-08 the parents of 24,000 children in northern Pakistan refused to permit health workers to administer polio vaccinations last month, mostly due to rumours that the risk-free vaccine was an American plot to sterilise innocent Muslim children.
Compare this pathetic situation to secular India, this Friday will mark a full year since the last case of wild poliovirus was detected in India. This is a huge milestone in the history of global health. But the fight against polio is not over Bill Gates wrote on his site as recently as last week: '' In 2009, India had more polio cases than any other country in the world. But much has changed since then, and this Friday will mark a full year since the last case of wild poliovirus was detected in India. This is a huge milestone in the history of global health. With a huge and growing population, hard-to-reach migrant communities, and sanitation and health conditions that limit the effectiveness of polio vaccines, this remarkable achievement in India marks clear progress in the fight against polio.
India really stepped up to the challenge on polio. The government of India funded its own eradication program. Twice a year, 2 million volunteers prepare 800,000 vaccination booths around the country—at schools, hospitals, and community centers. They immunize more than 172 million children one by one. Working with partners like Rotary International, WHO, and UNICEF, they have built an impressive infrastructure for delivering health services to some of the most underprivileged children in the world. India’s story is proof that major health problems can be solved in the toughest places in the world. But the fight against polio is not over and we are at a critical moment in time.''
The disease is concentrated in North-West Frontier Province, where 60% of the refusals were attributed to "religious reasons". In the Khyber Agency, more than 200,000 children have frequently under duress evaded booster since 2009 due to hesitant parents. The religious conflict in the tribal areas of Pakistan is one of the principal encumbrance to effectual polio vaccination.' The World Health Organisation (WHO) had recorded 39 cases of polio in Pakistan in 2006, up from 28 in 2005; and as many as 84 nationwide cases of polio have been reported this year.
Polio vaccines used in Pakistan are manufactured in WHO laboratories around the world, including the United States, which makes them a source of resentment for the militant groups. Tehreek-i-Taliban and other groups opposing polio drops fan the propaganda that the jabs are made out of pig fat and hence prohibited for Muslims, some of these sermons even decree that any child who got paralysed or died of polio is a martyr, for his sacred resistance to refuse to fall for a western conspiracy.
The brazen misinformation broadened by the extremist clerics using loudspeakers and unlawful radio stations, and by word of mouth - has caused a sharp jump in polio cases in Pakistan and hit global efforts to eradicate the devastating illness. The Pukhtun-Khawa government has made gruelling efforts to oppose the gossip of an "infidel vaccine". Health workers fanning across the province last month were equipped with copies of a fatwa, or religious order, endorsing the vaccinations and signed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the leaders of Pakistan's most powerful religious parties.
Dismissing the Taliban’s claim that the oral polio vaccine was designed to cause impotency and sterility, religious scholars are urging people to immunise their children against polio and fulfil their religious duty. “Religious scholars in 50 Muslim countries have approved the vaccination for the prevention of all diseases because these were aimed to safeguard their children from a host of ailments,” said Dr. Muhammad Zubair Usmani of the Darul Uloom Karachi. It is the duty of Muslims to protect their children from disease, he said during a “Polio Vaccination in the Light of Islam” seminar at the Sheikh Zaid Islamic Centre University of Peshawar November 3. “The Almighty Allah had clearly instructed the human beings in the Koran to take all measures to prevent occurrence of diseases. The Taliban’s propaganda is not justified as vaccines had eliminated the disease from the world,” said Maulana Dr. Sher Ali Shah.
The move calmed many sceptics. Nearly 5.7 million children were vaccinated in January, with another 3 million targeted in a second round due to start soon. "The elephant is over. We are left with just the tail," said Dr Afridi. But the tail has a deadly sting. Though only 24,000 children missed the vaccine, the WHO officials said failure to vaccinate in small pockets of the country gave the virus a fresh toehold to spread.
Paul Simon described the religious fanatics commendably "A man he hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest."