Baldia Town, Karachi: Polio free since 2011

Published: October 20, 2013
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Doctor Tasleem Amir, District Health Communications Support Officer, joined the team in 2011.

Doctor Tasleem Amir, District Health Communications Support Officer, joined the team in 2011.

Doctor Tasleem Amir, District Health Communications Support Officer, joined the team in 2011. Screengrab of a baby receiving the vaccine. Abrar, a polio victim, goes door to door as a living reminder showing parents what it means to be a polio victim.

KARACHI: Polio cases in Baldia Town have decreased substantially in the last few years. A team advocating for polio vaccination has increased awareness in families of the benefits of vaccination increasing their willingness to accept polio drops for their children.

Baldia Town, Karachi boasts no new polio cases since 2011.

In early 2011, thousands of families refused polio drops because of misconceptions as well as religious and traditonal beliefs. Some believed that the vaccine causes impotency.

According to Doctor Tasleem Amir, District Health Communications Support Officer, who joined the team in 2011, some families would refuse the vaccination without any reason.

The team met with Muslim clerics and held meetings in madrassas to reduce the number of families refusing the vaccine for religious reasons. Muslim scholars belonging to different sects are now supporting the program and have passed more than 30 fatwas in support of polio vaccination.

Mufti Muhammad Zubair, a supporter of the program, said “polio drops should be given to children.”

Mrs Sher Ali Khan, a mother who was against the program, now vaccinates all of her children, “there is no trend of giving polio drops to children in my family, one time we accepted the drops by mistake and our family got really angry.”

She continued that “a team of doctors visited us and convinced us that it was okay to take these drops. Therefore for our youngest son we got an injection as well as polio drops.”

Only 670 families refuse the vaccination at present.

Abrar, a polio victim, is a major part of the team’s campaign against the virus. He goes door to door as a living reminder showing parents what it means to be a polio victim.

Since July 2012, 21 polio vaccinators and security guards have lost their lives to violent attacks. Four of the dead, two of whom were women, were killed during polio campaigns in Karachi.

Dr Tasleem said that all campaigners became very frightened after the attacks and it took over a month for them to regain momentum in their campaign.

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This film is part of Black Box Sounds production, an initiative specializing in production aimed at social and development issues, behavior change communication and mass awareness since 2006. For further information, you can visit their website or Facebook page.

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