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Op-Ed: Authorities now bribing parents for polio vaccination in Pakistan

By Ernest Dempsey     Mar 16, 2014 in Health
Peshawar - After using scare tactics at places, authorities in Pakistan are moving to bribe parents for vaccinating their children with the questionable oral polio vaccine (OPV).
The politics of polio vaccination in Pakistan is seeing new and interesting turns every now and then. The latest move in this connection is the decision of the authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province to pay parents who let their children be vaccinated for polio and other diseases, as reported on The Guardian. Parents will be offered 1000 rupees, or around $10, for vaccinating each newborn child.
“It is the first time the country has resorted to monetary incentives, which are rarely used around the world,” wrote the paper.
The move comes a month after authorities ordered the arrest of parents in the Sindh province in case they refused to vaccinate their child for polio during a 3-day district-wide vaccination campaign.
The question constantly evoked by these various tactics is why fear and now greed is being used to influence parents into vaccinating children? Such influence has hardly been used before, though a parallel propaganda drive has been used by anti-west Muslim clerics in the region, declaring the vaccine as a means of making Muslim population sterile. Due to their own political agenda, Taliban militants also attack polio vaccination teams in Pakistan.
While the use of OPV was stopped in much of the west in the 80s and in 2000 in the US due to health concerns, its use has been allowed in third world countries like India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Those skeptical of the vaccine’s efficacy and safety continued to oppose its use in developing countries, primarily for its potentially crippling adverse effect of paralysis – what has been termed Vaccine-Induced Polio Paralysis (VIPP) – because the live virus in the vaccine can and does mutate. In 2007, scientists traced an epidemic of VIPP in Nigeria to the same vaccine.
Between the Islamist propaganda of outlaw militants and the lies and deception of the WHO and its partner local authorities, the masses are being subject to a new kind of political control – one using their children’s bodies. It is regrettable that despite epidemics of paralysis caused by the vaccine in developing countries, WHO and international as well as local governments are not only continuing the use of OPV in poor countries but actively making strategies to influence parents into getting the vaccine for their children. While mainstream media is an ally benefiting from the polio vaccination campaigns and accordingly turning a blind eye to the harm caused by the vaccine or investigating the vaccine’s safety for wider coverage globally, thanks to blogs and citizen journalism outlets, the horrors of this industry is not a secret any more.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about polio vaccine risks, polio in Pakistan, polio vaccination
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