Anti-vaccination movements are a universal dilemma. People stop immunizing their kids from deadly diseases over the baseless fears of their child acquiring autism or becoming sterile. However, Pakistani government has found a way to effectively tackle the issue.
Police officials in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have issued hundreds of arrest warrants in order to get rid of the rapidly growing epidemic.
Although this effort may sound a bit too forceful, at least the government has realized its responsibility to curb the ailment which has now spread to other countries; it’s more than what can be said about Western countries in this regard.
“We had 13,000 to 16,000 refusal cases,” said the deputy police commissioner for Peshawar, Riaz Khan Mahsud. “There is total determination on our part. We shall convince parents of the good of vaccinating their children, but if they refuse, we shall detain them. There is no leniency.”
Recommended: A Message By Jimmy Kimmel For Anti-Vaccine Movement
A senior government official claimed they are applying different laws, adding that they have resorted to coercive measures since persuasion has failed.
“Some parents readily agree to vaccinate children to avoid detention. Others take a few days behind the bars to see reason,” he explained further. “We take an affidavit from them and let them go if they bring kids for vaccination.”
The anti-polio campaign faced a major setback in Pakistan when the CIA used a vaccination program for an undercover spy operation to obtain DNA samples from children at the compound where Osama bin Laden was later killed during a 2011 raid.
Even though CIA has since vowed it won't make operational use of vaccination programs, the damage has been done and the tribal regions of the country have refused to receive any vaccinations because of the fear of the medicine being a Western measure to render their next generation sterile.
The bad law and order situation is also in part responsible for the growth of polio. Militant groups have targeted health workers ever since the Abottabad incident. Due to these reasons, the outbreak is particularly bad in North Waziristan and KPK.
Pakistan is one of the three countries in the world where polio is still prevalent, according to World Health Organization.
The country has so far reported 13 polio cases in 2015.