Via The Express Tribune: A lifetime of pain for Swat’s polio-stricken children. Click through to watch a 4-minute video.
Akbar Khan, a resident of Swat, cries as he sees his four year-old son Hamza on the bed. Polio struck, Hamza cannot walk without help.
“For four years my son was fine, he could walk, run and play,” Khan recalls. “All of a sudden he fell ill and was bed-ridden.
“I took him to the doctor who did some tests and diagnosed him with polio. Some people advised temporary treatment, others advised herbal treatment. I know he is not getting better because there is no cure, only god can help him now.”
Khan lamented how his son contracted polio during an 18-month break in the immunisation drive due to the security situation in the valley.
Owing to the security situation and a host of misconceptions, polio eradication drives have suffered in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which was this week termed as a reservoir of polio in Pakistan by the World Health Organisation.
Khan says he would sell all his belongings, if the money could buy his son an hour of uninterrupted normal walk.
Swat polio vaccination team supervisor Khurshid Ahmed says that opponents of the drive and their supporters aside, there are misconceptions that vaccines are un-Islamic. Though Sheikhul-Hadees Mufti Sarfaraz Faizi explains that “in Islam it is permitted to provide treatment before or after diagnosis.”
The religious aspect is not the only factor that is keeping people away from vaccination.
Swat resident Manzoor Ahmed says that he heard that the polio drops contain forbidden ingredients such as fat of pig and (George W) Bush’s urine.
Khurshid Ahmed said that in a bid to change the public’s attitude towards vaccination, his team resorted to immunising their own children to demonstrate that the polio drops were just harmless medicine.