The campaign with a hole


by Rohin
26th September, 2006 at 11:11 pm    

India’s polio rates have soared and most new cases are Muslims.

This picture is part of a set documenting the campaign to rid the world of polio, taken by my favourite photographer, Sebastiao Salgado. India is one of the six countries deemed ‘at risk’, along with Pakistan, Somalia, the DR of Congo, Nigeria and Sudan.

Poliomyelitis is an entirely preventable viral disease, which can cripple or kill those worst affected. Worldwide eradication attempts have been ongoing for decades now and the WHO have met with a great deal of success. From an estimated 350,000 global cases in 1988, 2005 saw only 1,998 cases. However, the majority of these were in India and Nigeria. Campaigns like the Pulse Polio programme have been immensely effective in educating and protecting the public.

In a country the size of India, the scale of the immunisation is superbly admirable, with the Indian government vaccinating millions of children in a short space of time. Things were looking up.

Yet this week has seen the news that 23 children have already died from polio this year, with 297 cases already reported. Last year only 66 cases were recorded nationwide. 270 of the new cases are in the frequently backward Uttar Pradesh – and about 70% are Muslim.

Pic

Health workers report that the cause is a rumour circulating that the vaccine is in fact a Western form of birth control designed to curtail the proliferation of Muslims. Similar beliefs were cited in Nigeria recently, with members of the public claiming that vaccines were poison from the West. None of this is dissimilar to Thabo Mbeke’s declaration of foreign medication as useless ‘Western hegemony’ and the BJP’s rejection of traditional medicine, whilst making a huge investment in cow urine.

Conspiracy theory or not, emergency talks are underway to try to steady the Indian eradication programme, which threatens to derail the entire global goal of wiping out this terrible disease.


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Filed in: Current affairs,Science,South Asia






20 Comments below   |  

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  1. DesiPundit

    Polio…

    In a country the size of India, the scale of the immunisation is superbly admirable, with the Indian government vaccinating millions of children in a short space of time. Things were looking up.
    Yet this week has seen the news that 23 children have alr…


  2. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » India: Polio and Children

    [...] The dreaded Polio, despite best efforts still has to leave India. Pickled Politics has more. “Health workers report that the cause is a rumour circulating that the vaccine is in fact a Western form of birth control designed to curtail the proliferation of Muslims.” [...]




  1. Sunny — on 26th September, 2006 at 11:53 pm  

    I’m surprised most of the cases are not of Dalits, given they are more likely to live in shanty-town slums where polio and other diseases are rife.

    Or maybe its something to do with Uttar Pradesh generally being a bit of a craphole (apologies to the 140 million or so UP people out there) and that state having a large percentage of Muslims.

    The BJP investing in cow urine always cracks me up, but its also scary how a country trying to drive fast into the 21st century still has these nuts as politicians.

  2. Vladimir — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:42 am  

    My bro just got married in India, the odd politician was invited including the revenue minister of Punjab the word nut’s jus doesn’t come into it’s more like corrupt drunkards!

    I know this is not of relevance to the article but still, kinda shows where politicians intentions lie, instead of resolving the other issues such as polio.

    http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2318/stories/20060922003010100.htm

  3. Vikrant Singh — on 27th September, 2006 at 8:36 am  

    I’m surprised most of the cases are not of Dalits, given they are more likely to live in shanty-town slums where polio and other diseases are rife.

    High infection rates amongst Muslims are not due to poverty! Few years back in UP some Imam’s issued a fatwa against polio vaccination as they think government is secretly sterlising them. Sheeh!

  4. Vikrant Singh — on 27th September, 2006 at 8:39 am  

    BJP’s rejection of traditional medicine, whilst making a huge investment in cow urine.

    Link?

  5. flygirl — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:45 am  

    Disappointing to hear this. Three years ago Gus Nossal was celebrating the success of polio vaccination in India and how there were only 60 cases that year (non-fatal)…evidently very premature celebration.

  6. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:41 am  

    Oh Rohin. It’s you is it?

    (palms sweat, stomach churns, thirst for vengeance bubbles until despair and inferiority complex set in, turns off computer)

  7. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:32 pm  

    Surely it wouldn’t be hard to give responsibility to the Red Crescent or a more trusted organisation for polio vaccination where there is mullah-led mistrust. Has that been tried?

  8. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:45 pm  

    poverty has a lot to do with not knowing who to trust etc. or being more reliant on immediate authority figures .

  9. Uncleji — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:05 pm  

    “Few years back in UP some Imam’s issued a fatwa against polio vaccination as they think government is secretly sterlising them.”

    We can thank Mrs Gandhi & the Emergency for planting that fear.
    There are also Imams who do back the polio programme.
    http://www.comminit.com/experiences/pds112004/experiences-2749.html

  10. Nush — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:05 pm  

    Its wierd, i just had a polio jab last week!

  11. Sunil — on 28th September, 2006 at 6:20 am  

    When you say BJP is rejecting traditional medicine, you mean BJP is rejecting Ayurveda, etc. or it is rejecting “traditional western medicine”?

  12. sudeep — on 28th September, 2006 at 8:03 am  

    Looks like the poster is more interested in the “Muslim” part than in Polio eradication.. Doctors are now coming out in public saying the Oral Polio Vaccine is inefficient and involves risk. See ToI editorial “Drop in the Ocean” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2018963.cms (“The global average incidence of AFP is one in 100,000, but in India the incidence has suddenly risen to 12-13 per 100,000 since the implementation of the polio programme..”) and The Telegraph story Polio botch-up blame at Delhi door, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060924/asp/frontpage/story_6786709.asp

    I haven’t vaccinated my kid (I’m not Muslim). I’ve also written at http://sudeepsdiary.blogspot.com/2006/09/polio-outbreak-do-bundein-zindagi-ki.html

  13. justforfun — on 28th September, 2006 at 9:08 am  

    sudeep – where ever the blame lies for the rise in polio in India, do not lose sight of the fact that polio is a killer or at the least a great disabler- and it can strike at any age. Even if they are in the UK, they may visit India one day . I have a good friend who is in a wheelchair now, after catching polio as an adult when he went to India. For your children’s sake, choose a vacine you are happy with and get them immunised. Don’t make them risk being martyrs for a controversial immunisation programme.

    Justforfun

  14. UPwala — on 28th September, 2006 at 3:52 pm  

    Sunny,
    just a FYI. These cases are reported from the western UP in great numbers. And Western UP is more closer to Haryana and Delhi Economically. You wouldnt find the santy towns and slums you are talking about in most of western UP towns(Meerut, Aligarh, Moradabad, Agra, Noida).
    The reason for the spread of Polio is rumour of it affecting re-production. Muslim clergy propogated it and i wouldnt be surprised that now even some Hindus have fallen for it.

    Rohin,
    Do you have link which gives us that huge amount BJP invested in COW Urine therapy? Just wanna see how much they wasted.
    Thanks

  15. RS — on 3rd October, 2006 at 3:21 pm  

    I too blogged on this issue but with a different perspective.

  16. Sunny — on 3rd October, 2006 at 4:16 pm  

    Hmmm.. some very interesting views here – thanks for that everyone.

  17. mirax — on 26th October, 2006 at 5:12 am  

    It’s getting worse. Looks like the highly bureaucratic and inflexible Indian government has contributed to the fuck up by sticking with a less efficacious vaccine- OPV- and rather actively discouraging the IPV vaccine which has been used successfully in Tamil Nadu( methinks some shady figures are probably getting kickbacks for this vaccine policy):
    http://www.medindia.net/news/view_news_main.asp?x=14554

    But the whole sorry mess – in Nigeria, Indonesia etc- was started by fuckwit mullahs taking advantage of illiterate and ignorant people. Spare a thought for the number of lives needlessly blighted and throw the mud where it deserves to be thrown.

    Have no idea why apparently educated posters like sudeep are sitting on their arses whining on the net without first vaccinating their kids – the alternatives exist and the existing vaccine is not totally useless even if the alternatives are not available in Sudeep’s area.

  18. mirax — on 26th October, 2006 at 5:20 am  

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1540477,00.html

    I have been following this story the last few years -starting with Nigeria from where the disease has spread and made a resurgence across a wide swath of the continent- and it made me really nervous when it came close to home, in Indonesia, which was previously on the brink of complete eradication. Shows what a tragedy religious stupidity can create.

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