Polio, a horrible disease which cripples many, should be gone the way of smallpox and should at present be eradicated. A vaccine was developed in the 1950s and polio cases fell from hundreds of thousands to a few thousand in the successive decades. UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted they would eliminate the disease by 2004, however, the disease is still an endemic in three nations: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. And what is preventing these organisations from achieving their objectives, the ever regressive force of religious fundamentalism in the form of radical Islam. Muslim leaders in Nigeria believe the vaccines are a US plot to infect Muslim children with HIV and sterilise them. It doesn’t matter if villagers do not believe them as church leaders plan on preventing immunisations by force, endangering many children’s lives. This is not the first time this has happened as efforts were hampered by Muslim clerics in 2002 to distribute the vaccine in the northern town of Kano. A similar situation is occurring in Pakistan, a Taliban leader has banned any inoculations unless the US stops all drone strikes. This is somewhat more grotesque than the situation in Nigeria, as the Taliban leader realises the importance of the vaccine and is holding the children hostage to accomplish their own goals. WHO and UNICEF will eventually eradicate Polio, it is a matter of when not if. Obviously the sooner the better but if radical Islamists are allowed to act with such impunity by their local governments then hundreds if not thousands of children’s lives are at risk of being destroyed by this disease.
Source: Scripps Howard News Service