Polio stakes get higher

There's an alarming story in the March 10 edition of the New Scientist about violence and misinformation hampering efforts by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eradicate polio in several Muslim counties, including Pakistan, Afghanistan and certain parts of majority Muslim communities in India.

Some Muslim clerics have denounced vaccinations as a pro-western plot to sterilise Muslims. The same rumours stopped vaccination in northern Nigeria in 2003, causing an international surge in polio cases.

In Pakistan, some clerics who command a loyal local following have even declared that preventing epidemics is contrary to Islamic law, and have described people infected with polio as "martyrs". In response, senior Muslims in Pakistan have issued pro-vaccination fatwa decrees. Some mothers are reportedly getting children secretly vaccinated for fear of local reprisals. Last month, Abdul Ghani Khan, a senior Pakistani doctor, was killed by a remote-controlled bomb shortly after urging villagers to vaccinate their children.

The WHO met recently and pledged to spend $575 million on top of the $5.5 billion already spent worldwide on eradicating polio.

This is the last chance to eradicate polio. There have been two previous deadlines to eradicate polio in 2000 and 2005 - sadly, both missed opportunities.

It is the duty of moderate Muslim politicians and clerics everywhere to debunk these myths. Those who actively denounce vaccinations should be charged with crimes against humanity.


David Allen said...

This is incredibly sad _ and disturbing. I'm afraid that many (especially rural) communities in Pakistan _ and many Pakistani communities in Britain _ are plagued by backward, superstitious, barely-literate 'imams' determined to take their congregations back to the 7th century. This is where Christianity, with its structures, hierarchies, qualifications, has the edge. At least there is some quality control over who can get into a pulpit and what they can say whilst they're standing there. In Isla, it seems, any old bigot with a beard who can mumble a few verses of the Koran can call himself a mullah and fill people's heads with nonsense.

Newmania said...

I read New Scientist as well Justin.David makes some very good sense ghere which in the ciontext of the Pakistani trained Mullahs coming here is pretty terrifying

Newmania said...

Hunter I commented here..where am I ?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Excellent points well made Justin.