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Distrust on Polio Vaccine Plagues Afghanistan

Distrust of Polio Vaccine Plagues Afghanistan

KABUL – According to Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley’s report door to door vaccination in capital Kabul is relatively straight forward but in rural areas threats against medical staff and distrust of the vaccination program remains prevalent, which can hamper efforts aimed at eradicating the disease.
“Often the men are not willing to have their kids vaccinated but with a lot of efforts, we usually convince them to allow it,” Polio worker, Nadira Sultani told Al Jazeera.
According to latest reports, today there are only three countries still suffering from Polio Virus but of twenty-seven cases last year twenty-one of them were in Afghanistan. Lack of access of vaccine team because of continuing conflict is a major reason.
“Off course, we are worried about their (polio workers) security. Sometimes they are facing threats because during the campaign they have to move from secure areas to insecure areas to immunize our children,” Head of National Polio Focal point, Hedayatullah Stanekzai said.
Tribal leaders and clerics have told the government, Taliban fighters won’t target medical teams and their families will allow their children to be immunized.
Some of residents in rural Areas are still suspicious about the Polio Vaccination.
Waheeda , local Ghazni resident said, “We will not allow vaccinate our kids because these vaccines are coming from the infidels and West to us. It has bad effects on our kids and most of our people are against it.”
“We are not happy with this vaccination because we heard the stories of polio vaccinations is not good and it is used for spying and the ingredients used are also not allowed.” Khial Mohammad, another Ghazni resident said.
After a fake polio vaccination program was used as cover to search for Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan, rumors in Afghanistan began to spread that the vaccination is used for spying and without halal ingredients.
Now as a consequence of that in the parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan, medical teams are not allowed to go door to door.
In the end, the fake polio campaign may have dealt real harm to battle polio in Afghanistan.
(Sahar News)

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