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article imageIndian Priests administer polio drops as blessings

By Chris V. Thangham     Apr 18, 2007 in Health
Local state officials in India use Indian Priests to administer polio drops to immunize children.
Hindu priests are blessing children with polio drops instead of traditional holy water, sweets or fruits to help eradicate the crippling disease in an eastern Indian state, an official said on Wednesday.
In India it was reported that they had more than 650 polio cases, and in Bihar is one of the states where this disease is prevalent. Many try to educate the public by giving polio drops to children to prevent this disease, many don't heed to them. So the local Government officials are trying to use a different approach to control this disease, they are using the temple priests to give the polio drops to children.
We are keen to wipe out polio and we thought involving temple priests would be a good idea as people trust and listen to them," said Gopal Krishna, a senior Bihar health official.
In India, the Hindu religion is a majority and many visit temples and accept holy water, fruits or sweets from the priests after prayers. The officials in Bihar are training the priests to administer polio drops to children, so they get immunized safely.
They have stepped up this immunization effort, after they recently found 11 polio cases this year. Polio can cause permanent paralysis in children and is still not eradicated even though we have found a cure for it. Polio is still found in India, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I was very surprised when the priest put polio drops into the mouths of several children, including my son, as god's blessings," said Sunita Devi, a resident of Patna, the state capital. "But we trust the priest as he can do us no harm."
One may laugh at this idea, but it solves the problem in finding a cure for polio.
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