PESHAWAR: Dilshad from Peshawar, whose son was affected by polio despite vaccination, asks why the Health Department was not divulging details about composition of the vaccination to counter propaganda against it.
An official of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on condition of anonymity that still over 22,000 parents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are not willing to administer polio vaccination to their children. As a result, he said, about 17,000 children below the age of five years in KP remain deprived of vaccination during every campaign.
Dilshad says she vents her anger on vaccination team during every campaign, because her son (now seven years old) contracted polio despite vaccination.
The WHO official says polio vaccination reduces the impact of the virus and in case the child still contracts polio then the intensity is lower and the child remains safe from disability. He insists that there was no side effect of the vaccination.
However, Dilshad is so fearful about the vaccine and she is not willing to administer vaccine to her other children. She along with many other residents of Ramdas area of Peshawar regularly refuses to cooperate with vaccination teams.
Dilshad’s concerns may be genuine to some extent, but there are many other parents who are not willing to administer polio vaccine to their children over fears that their children may lose fertility or their body may experience abnormal growth.
Sher Ali from Peshawar, like Dilshad, has the view that why the government is focusing too much on vaccination at a time when people are dying of hunger and poverty. Sher Ali says he is not sure what was the composition of the vaccine.
Aitbar Gul, Nazim from Mohmandabad neighbourhood, says the main reason behind ‘non-availability’ of children during vaccination campaigns is propaganda on social media. He says ignorant people tend to believe in propaganda material without investigation. He says unwilling parents often ask the visiting vaccination team that their children are not present at home and they have gone to the house of grandparents. He says this problem is now solved by informing the mobile polio teams about the mobility of children and also providing vaccination to children at bus stops and hospitals.
The EOC spokesman says the number of unwilling parents in Peshawar has significantly reduced now – it’s less than one thousand now.
Jamila from Peshawar contracted poliovirus when she was very young and doctor said she would improve with medication, but her problem kept on increasing. She grew up like this and now she is married, but disability in her leg has made her life very challenging.
A lady health worker says some parents make fake mark on thumb of their children to show that their children are already vaccinated, but facts are different from reality. She says such parents are not well-wishers of their children.