By: Asem Mustafa
Fear the biggest market of the world that has its manifestations in many forms. Pakistan has its share and polio campaign which on nationwide scale for masses has resulted in bloodbath which is likely to have a few more lives as it is not over yet.
PM IK’s services for Pakistan especially in health sector are laudable and his work speaks volume of his commitment. The chief ministers should come next and the Health Ministry for once should get the help of real professionals as every troubled area needs to be addressed differently
The polio campaigns in Pakistan have been controversial since long and, why this has been like this needs a probe. The world is trying to eradicate the disease and millions are poured in to curb the menace that surface in Pakistan and neighboring countries.
The polio workers in other parts of the world do not face death threat as compared to polio workers in Pakistan who have died a many in giving the drops that were dipped with blood both before and after.
A police constable escorting the polio workers was gunned down in broad daylight in Karak in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa earlier this week and his funeral was attended by many show the gravity of situation gripping Pakistan.
Another polio worker house was attacked as she administered the vaccine against parents’ wishes and her brother was given a thrashing. The two incidents happened in Karak and it is just the beginning.
Polio campaign in Pakistan has resulted in many a killings in the past and the campaign is always initiated with fear. The polio teams are given protection by the government and there are armed escorts accompanying the teams.
The two incidents happened in one small city of KPK which should be considered as an eye opener for the government. The reluctance from public added with violence should be discussed and policy makers should come up with a solution in protecting the lives of people associated with the campaign.
The desired results in eradicating the menace can only be achieved if there is an effort from the government that should send a clear message to public that it is in their own welfare.
The campaigns in the past made little or no impact and in current age and time it is the rumours which spread like wild fire making masses opinion.
The current pandemic Coronavirus had its fair share of rumours and now the world after losing many a loved one accepted it as a reality and adheres to basic safety measures.
The fear played its part in making the masses aware of the dangers in contracting the virus but in the case of polio awareness campaign the reluctance and lack of trust made Pakistan the only country in the world where people resorted to protests and violence.
This is all reported in the newspapers and not long ago while giving polio drops the parents of many of children rushed to hospitals and later made a protest which made people weary of the polio workers.
The year 2019 in KPK resulted in hundreds of children taken to hospitals who after taking the drops complained of stomachache, headaches, vomiting and fainting. The angry parents burnt down the health care facility.
There was no reason given as why it happened? Did the vaccine get contaminated? The people who administered it were they competent. All these answered were never placed before the public and masses after the incident despite the fear took their chances and hide their children.
There were many a videos that went viral in which people openly threat and cursed the polio workers ‘your pour poison in our children; may your children suffer 10 times more’ .
The Health Ministry before going with all blazing guns should for once do brain storming to curtail the trust deficit.
All segments of society who are role models for masses should be picked up wisely and carefully to deliver the message that what is done is for their own welfare and good.
The usual models with tainted fame and dubious character should be avoided and for once the religious elite should be called in to bridge the gap which is likely to take more lives.
There is also another reason which can be rated and this can be termed as a ‘conspiracy theory’ that the polio drops once taken will result in cancerous complications and this fear has been gripping the masses since long.
Need of the hour as in a humble solution to save the children from polio, is every area where the blood has spilled should be identified. The local hero from that area either religious, political or philanthropist should be involved in building the trust before the start of the campaign. This should vary from area to area and the national level campaign should be steered by none other than the Prime Minister Imran Khan himself.
PM IK’s services for Pakistan especially in health sector are laudable and his work speaks volume of his commitment. The chief ministers should come next and the Health Ministry for once should get the help of real professionals as every troubled area needs to be addressed differently.
Efforts should be made to make this campaign safe for all especially for the children who bear the scar for life and those who die it is not one that goes in grave the whole family dies with it.