Polio vaccinations in the dark ages

Published: July 16, 2012

Every child deserves the basic right to be protected against preventable diseases while they are too young to fend for themselves. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani children have it rough. They grow up in a country with a corrupt and incompetent government at the helm. They are inheriting a faltering economy and mountainous debt. The country isn’t as safe as it used to be, to put it mildly, and it doesn’t look like things will be improving soon.

To top it all of, rising crime rates, extortion, political violence and terrorism are now the accepted norm as well.

They can’t look forward to a proper healthcare system to take care of them when they are ill, nor can they expect a decent public education to be provided to them. They can’t rely on the government to assist them in the employment front, nor a welfare system that supports them until they are able to get up on their own feet and make a living for themselves.

It’s true that Pakistanis do not have high hopes or expectations from their government but what they should expect, in fact what they should demand, at the very least, is the assurance of the basic right of every child to be protected against preventable diseases while they are too young to fend for themselves. Diseases which have been eradicated from almost every corner of the world yet exists in our part of the world.

An American philosopher, John Dewey, said

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

The authenticity of that statement is proving to be literally accurate for the children in the rural areas of Pakistan. Warlords in North and South Waziristan have banned polio vaccination campaigns from operating in their area. This has delivered a massive blow to all the efforts put in to eradicate the disease from the country.

These actions are putting at risk hundreds and thousands of innocent children across Pakistan. While truly astounding are the works of a depraved mind set, this can perhaps only be explained through the ignorance of the mullahs that have initiated the ban about the actual scope of the damage that will be caused.

But it wouldn’t be fair to blame it all on just the mullahs; the government is largely to blame as well.

Apart from being unable to assert its writ against armed zealots and prevent them from harming what is a vital project, the government has failed in its responsibility to properly educate the people of our country about polio.

Instead, conspiracy theories and ridiculous myths, such as the vaccination campaign is an attempt by the West to make the ‘believers’ infertile, are rife amongst the people. To be honest, Dr Shakeel Afridi and the Americans did not help the cause either.

It would have been impossible for such a ban to have taken place if people had actually been educated and made aware of the dangers of polio and other preventable diseases and the importance of its vaccinations. We must start educating our population about Polio and many other diseases that are curable and can be prevented. Pakistanis need to be told about the dangers and consequences of ignoring health aid.

My worry is that Pakistan is already slipping into the dark ages; electricity crisis, gas crisis, fuel crisis etc. Unless education is made a priority for our people, this country might pass the point of no return.

Read more by Mani here or follow him on Twitter @BallerinaAngry

Mani Khawaja

Mani Khawaja

A musician and Business graduate from the University of Wales Lampeter, Mani currently works as Head of Development for a multi national security firm. He tweets @manikhawaja88 (twitter.com/manikhawaja88)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sane

    Have you ever though as why polio is so much emphasized. So much so that if polio drops are not administered, the police mobilizes. Why polio is not tried to be eradicated in other part of the world like India and why focus is only to Northern areas leaving whole Pakistan. While polio is a non contiguous diseases???????!!!!!!!Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist

    @Sane who writes “Have you ever though as why polio is so much emphasized. So much so that if polio drops are not administered, the police mobilizes. Why polio is not tried to be eradicated in other part of the world like India and why focus is only to Northern areas leaving whole Pakistan. While polio is a non contiguous diseases???????!!!!!!!”

    Why don’t you tell us why? You seem to know the answer. Please tell us.Recommend

  • You’ve got to be kidding me

    @Sane:

    Because polio has been eradicated in every corner of the world except for Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Muslim part of Nigeria. India has been polio free for many years now. I hope this helps you move on from your conspiracy theory.Recommend

  • Raw is War

    @Sane

    Polio is a contagious disease for children. Once the whole world becomes polio free, then the polio drops can be stopped. Islamists resists polio vaccinations.

    Pakistan should be quarantined from the normal world now. The picture of the kid above is enough to melt anybody’s heart.Recommend

  • Grammar Police

    @The editor: To top it all off*Recommend

  • Critical

    @Sane:
    Wow,you have a user name @Sane and talk totally opposite to it.FYI,Polio is an endemic disease found mostly in India,Pakistan,Afghanistan and parts of Africa mainly because of the lack of amenities
    Recently WHO has removed India from Polio watchlist due to the efforts taken by govt to eradicate it and the number of cases they have found.
    The only countries still having polio are Pakistan,Afghanistan and Nigeria,coincidentally countries with a considerable muslim population…

    I dont care if you guys hate western civilzation and decide to use your primitive sharia.But dont play with the lives of the innocent children who will have to deal with their entire life being handicapped.Recommend

  • mkz

    Why have you quoted the american philosopher?? The last thing he wrote was in 1949.

    Failing to see any relevance of his quote to the polio campaign…….Recommend

  • Parvez

    Very well written.
    The failure of the polio campaign in Pakistan is a classic case of the misuse of religion coupled with pathetic bad governance and only the poor helpless suffer and there are many of them.Recommend

  • salim

    @Sane:
    sane u r really insane………..by not eradicating polio pakistan poses threat for entire world’s childrenRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    Why make so much fuss about certain section of people deciding against giving poison to their children, because this is what the polio vaccine is. I am not a Pakistani but neverteless refused to vaccine our child in mexico. The Parents should nevertheless be cautioned to keep their little children clean.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Faisal

    What is the use of POLIO if those poor children will be died later by drones? i believe polio vaccination is much more needed for our politicians who are already POLIO effected. And for our ARMY leaders who doesn’t have courage to hit the drones. They are already disabled by “DOLLAR POLIO”. By the way these “WARLORDS” are made by America with the collaboration of our agencies………Recommend

  • Sane

    @Rex Minor

    Rex Minor 13 hours ago
    Why make so much fuss about certain section of people deciding against giving poison to their children, because this is what the polio vaccine is. I am not a Pakistani but neverteless refused to vaccine our child in mexico. The Parents should nevertheless be cautioned to keep their little children clean.

    I fully endorse your comments. Can’t do anything with people who have otherwise thoughts, may be out of some motivation.
    .Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    @Sane:
    You can refuse to give polio vaccination to your children (which I believe is Insane), but do not deprive the rest from having immunization against a debilitating disease like Polio.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Let the author take the intiative and organise with the help of UNO to make children in the Pashtun territories immune against the USA and Pakistan military. What is the justification for a polio program in the Pashtun territories? I would place a question mark against all NGO’s specialy the UNO run agencies who receive foreign funds. We are not in the dark ages but in the 21st century of espionage and intrusion of lethal force of the Imperialis which includes contamination and pollution of the natural sources as well as the people by use of chemicals, aeronotical and cyber intervention. This is real and should be taken seriously. Russia under the ex KJB vetern President Putin is taking all precautions against the new menace and there is no reason why all muslim countries should not as well? The use of strong words such as war lords is provocative and is not helpful.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Faizan

    @Sane:
    Because there are only three countries in the world hiving a polio endemic , India is now not in the list. Please for God’s sake , Grow up.Recommend

  • Nishant

    it is a zionist and hindu conspiracy
    because if polio is cured from the region they children might grow up to be strong individuals

    such strong individuals may not choose the path of common sense Recommend