Immunisation push propels India towards victory in war against polio

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by JAISWAL, Jan 2, 2012.


    JAISWAL Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 13, 2010
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    link:- Immunisation push propels India towards victory in war against polio | World news | The Guardian
    Moradabad is a nondescript and scruffy city, 110
    miles north of the Indian capital Delhi. Few have
    heard of it, despite its population of nearly five
    million. But it is about to become the site of an
    astonishing victory against a terrible disease.
    Moradabad has long been the centre of one of the
    most stubborn concentrations of polio in India.
    The disease is passed on by person-to-person
    contact and, with Moradabad's poor inhabitants
    frequently travelling far across the country in
    search of work, outbreaks elsewhere have often
    been traced back to the city.
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulates
    that three years must pass without any cases of
    polio occurring before a region can be declared
    Moradabad, which only recently had 60-80 cases
    a year, is expected to qualify in 2012.
    "This will be a wonderful thing – for us, for India,
    for the people of Moradabad," said Dr
    Mohammed Arif, a public health specialist and
    organiser of anti-polio campaigns in the area.
    There is a bigger national milestone on the
    horizon. If in India as a whole there are no more
    confirmed cases before 13 January, the country
    will have completed its first year without a new
    And if polio is gone from India, the only countries
    where the disease is still endemic would be
    Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    India's likely achievement would be a big step
    towards the eradication of a global disease – the
    second after smallpox, which was officially
    defeated worldwide in 1979.
    "That would really be something to be happy
    about," said Arif.
    It would also be a boost to a global effort which
    has been flagging in recent years, with key
    milestones repeatedly missed.
    In the summer, Sir Liam Donaldson, the UK's
    former chief medical officer who now chairs the
    independent monitoring board of the Global Polio
    Eradication Initiative, said the final success of the
    campaign to eradicate polio, which has seen
    cases reduced by 99% over 20 years, was "on a
    knife-edge". In some places, particularly sub-
    Saharan Africa, polio has even made a comeback.
    In India, a mass vaccination campaign involving
    more than a million volunteers reduced cases
    nationally by 94% between 2009 and 2010, from
    741 to 42, and down to the single case last year.
    The success is due to a combination of highly
    motivated local workers, philanthropy, the
    involvement of international health bodies and the
    sometimes inefficient but nonetheless essential
    support of local government.
    Equally important in overcoming the last bastions
    of the disease, as in many parts of the world, has
    been the consent of local religious figures.
    Over the last decade one of the biggest obstacles
    to eradication of polio in India, as in Pakistan and
    Nigeria, has been the resistance of poor and
    largely illiterate Muslim communities such as
    those in and around Moradabad.
    Even as the first campaigns got underway in the
    area in the late 1990s, local clerics began telling
    congregations that the vaccinations were part of a
    government plan, backed by the west, to make
    Muslim women infertile.
    The febrile atmosphere of the early years of the
    last decade, against a backdrop of the 9/11 attacks
    and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, aggravated the
    The Karula neighbourhood of Moradabad has
    seen some of the fiercest resistance to the
    A quarter of a million people, including huge
    numbers of small children, are packed into
    Karula's narrow lanes. With no proper sewage
    system and monsoon rains flooding streets with
    faeces, polio – which is spread through poor
    sanitation – was endemic.
    Muzaffar Sultan Torabi, a senior cleric in
    Moradabad, said the local Muslim community
    "had been upset" by events in the Middle East and
    Afghanistan and by "western portrayals and
    blaming of Islam … for their own problems". He
    added: "They were not trusting scientific medicine
    and thought immunisation was an American plan
    to sterilise our girls."
    But some religious leaders convinced the
    community otherwise.
    Torabi said that he had attended immunisation
    clinics in clerical robes to show "that a common
    Muslim man is able to trust the programme".
    He added: "I told them that in nowhere in the
    Qur'an is it written that we should to be
    unhealthy, or not to take care of our hygiene and
    that if tomorrow our children are suffering from
    polio then they will not be able to do the prayers
    properly. Slowly they understood my point."
    Noor Jahan, a 60-year-old widow in Karula, said
    she had once strongly opposed immunisation,
    believing what "they said in the mosques about
    the American conspiracy to stop Muslims having
    children". Now however, since listening to Torabi,
    she has begun working very actively to tell the
    doctors about all the new births in the
    neighbourhood so the babies can be vaccinated.
    In Dumghar, a small village seven miles outside
    Moradabad, consciousness-raising and
    immunisation clinics are held every Wednesday.
    Village women line up in the dust of the school
    playground to hear organisers from the Rotary
    Club talk about basic hygiene and to have
    newborns vaccinated. Schoolchildren also queue
    for a free lunch of rice and beans. This is one of
    the poorest regions of India with social indicators
    on a par with those in sub-Saharan Africa.
    There are still problems. One health worker told
    the Guardian that she constantly faced suspicion –
    even abuse – from fathers who said she was
    corrupting their daughters.
    But the message has got through nonetheless.
    Mithilesh, 28, had brought her two-month-old
    daughter, Soni, to be immunised. "I don't listen to
    anyone saying anything negative. It's good for
    my child so of course I'll do it," she said.
  3. Param

    Param Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 9, 2010
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    If not for the few new cases of Polio in UP or Bihar, polio was practically eliminated from the country.

    JAISWAL Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 13, 2010
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    thats what the artical indicates, how the help from the minority clerics had help in decresing the new polio victoms and will help in immunisation of that from India in near future.
  5. Param

    Param Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 9, 2010
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    Infact the polio immunisation program becoming successful in those states is even more important.Last of year i read reports of the dangers of polio arriving along with the non immunized children of Migrant laborers.

    The state govt here took the initiative and launched an immunization drive for the children of migrants from those states.

    So what was achieved in other states should not be undone because of failure to eradicate polio somewhere else.

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