The Pakistani Government has given a go-ahead to arrest parents who refuse polio inoculations for their kids.
Unlike common assumption that the anti-vaccination movement is restricted to America, there are quite a few parents in Pakistan who are refusing to vaccinate their toddlers, infants and kids against a number of diseases that could scar them for life. Having failed to make these parents understand the importance of the vaccines, the Pakistan Government has resorted to extreme measures to get the children doses of polio.
The Pakistani government has issued hundreds of arrest warrants for those refusing to vaccinate their children against polio. This is just one of the latest and desperate efforts to combat the surging public health crisis in the country. According to Indian Express, the “Refuse Inoculations, Get Jailed” movement has seen 10 parents sent behind bars so far.
Polio has been spreading quite viciously in a country like Pakistan, where superstition and poor education has ensured people develop a fear of modern medicines, and vaccines that immunize children against deadly diseases. As shared by the deputy police commissioner for Peshawar, Riaz Khan Mahsud, there have been as many as 16,000 cases of parents refusing to vaccinate their children.
Mahsud confirmed that the local police are completely determined to arrest people if they refuse to get vaccinations, and that there is “no leniency” towards the measure.
Such strong words have become very necessary as Pakistan gears-up to face the polio epidemic, which has been completely eradicated in more developed regions of the world. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The global health monitoring organization has further warned that failure to fully eradicate polio in these remaining areas could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year in the next 10 years. Owing to the adamancy of the parents in Pakistan, these cases could develop elsewhere in the world too.
The polio outbreak in Pakistan mirrors the recent cases of measles in the United States. Both diseases were all but eradicated thanks to the development of vaccines to combat them. However, Pakistan’s polio outbreak and the anti-vaccination sentiments primarily stem from regions that are controlled by Taliban and their archaic rulers. Unsurprisingly, the Taliban is not just supporting, but instigating an anti-vaccination campaign that is more often than not, enforced by violence.
The recent escalation of clashes between Taliban and the local government has forced citizens and their unvaccinated kids to flee to other regions, allowing polio to spread its deadly tentacles. Perhaps the police could succeed more by helping spread awareness apart from arresting those who refuse to cooperate.
[Image Credit | Rferl]