Thousands of children below five years in Peshawar could not be administered polio drops, after a fatwa issued by anti-state cleric Maulana Fazal Ullah declared that these drops could turn the kids "sexually impotent".
Ullah’s message warning the people against the polio drive was aired on illegally-run radio FM channels. The cleric is said to be holding tremendous influence in the area and people accede to his directions.
He said that polio drops rendered the kids "sexually impotent", and also called upon the people to boycott the polio drops because these (polio drops) were a tool used by the Western countries, particularly the US.
According to The Nation, the parents of more than 4000 children refused to provide polio vaccines to their children during the 3-day vaccination campaign which concluded yesterday.
During the ongoing Talibanisation campaign in NWFP and adjacent tribal belt, the extremist forces in the absence of writ of law have much influence in these areas, and the locals are bound to follow their directives, reported the paper.
About 1023 vaccinators in Swat district were tasked to administer OPV to 3,37,000 children below the age of 5 years. However, on the concluding day the health officials confirmed that parents in different villages including Dewlai, Koza Bandai, Bara Bandai, Dherai, Qambar, Charbagh and Guli Bagh of Swat did not allow the vaccinators to provide the polio drops to their children, added the paper.
On the first day of the drive, parents of around 2400 refused the vaccinators to administer drops to their children, he added.
Throughout the vaccination campaign the security situation was normal, owever, very few people got their children vaccinated, the paper quoted confirmed sources as saying.
The health department with financial assistance of different international donor agencies like WHO, UNICEF, JICA was carrying out different immunization campaigns in which along with anti-polio vaccines some drops of Vitamin B were administered to the children.