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So anyone who knows me will be aware I am most definitely I.T. challenged.  I will admit my short coming is a lack of patience with the bloody thing.  On more than one occasion I could quite happily have thrown my laptop etc, out of the bloody window.

However, sanity always returns and I somehow muddle on, hence my elation at finally figuring out how to get bloody Netflix and Amazon Prime on my Xbox.  The world is now my oyster hahahahaha.

So what have I been watching? One of the most fascinating and heart wrenching documentaries I have seen in many a month. A documentary on the Taliban and its aversion to modern medicine in Pakistan. Truly shocking!

POLIO

At its peak in the 1950’s, polio paralysed 350,000 people per year worldwide. In 2014, the cases were 128 of which 99% were in Pakistan.  Polio has been eradicated in all but three countries, namely Afghanistan,Nigeria and Pakistan.  The South Asian nation is the only one where the number of cases are rising significantly. We wonder why right? Well, read on and I will tell you.

THE TALIBAN

imageThe Taliban has prohibited polio vaccines just when the country was on the verge of eliminating the disease.  The Pakistani government is doing what it can to keep the outbreak from spilling out of the Taliban controlled area but it is a tough ask. The immunisation ban is in the North and South of the Waziristan district, along the Afghan border.  Roughly, 250,000 children have not been immunised against the preventable but incurable disease.  Remember this is a culture that looks down on disability.

In the documentary a couple had two children under five, both with polio and who in all probability would never be able to walk simply from the lack of being immunised. A two second job of drops into the mouth and none of their pain would have happened. Heart breaking.

The Muslim clerics are preaching that the vaccine drops are a plot to sterilise muslims, or that the vaccine contains ingredients derived from pigs.  Another bizarre claim widely circulated after the US invasion of Afghanistan was that the polio vaccine contained the urine of the President of the United States! I kid you not.

Islamic clerics were echoing the Taliban’s dictates.  In rural area where it was widely believed the best form of medicine is an amulet against evil pushed by local imam’s (remember Fakhunda) where science holds no sway.  The crippling effects of polio are seen as a curse from god, a punishment, are they forgetting these are innocent young children?

After the CIA’s decision to set up fake “Hepatitis B” vaccination programmes as part of its hunt for Osama bin Laden. They managed to  fuel militant suspicion of the global project to eradicate polio. The White House has since promised it will never again use vaccination programmes as a cover for spying.

The Taliban issued a fatwa on polio vaccinations.

HEALTH WORKERS

imageThe health workers mostly women as this it is not acceptable for men to enter a woman’s home, are threatened and attacked with every visit to a village or farm.  They have armed guards and drivers with them at all times, as the villagers are averse to their children receiving the vaccine.

The villagers are obviously terrified of the Taliban and what would happen to them if they accept the vaccine, and also a few of them mentioned, as the polio vaccine is not mentioned in the Qu’ran it is not accepted medicine. Leaves you speechless doesn’t it?  However, the stupidity is no laughing matter.

The documentary showed a clinic in Islamabad where dozens of mothers with sick children waited patiently in the monsoon heat for medical attention whilst the female doctor on duty  sat in her air conditioned office reading the Qu’ran.

ASSASSINATIONS BEGIN

The Taliban began targeting polio workers in June 2012 when they issued a fatwa declaring polio vaccine “poison”.

Eighty vaccine workers have been murdered since the programme was started in 2012.  This is what happened to Naseer and his wife :-

Naseer and his wife Bibi, had gone to bed before midnight exhausted after three days of hauling a cooler full of vaccines from village to village along country roads, going from farm to farm, giving vaccine drops to children.  they were jolted awake by two deafening blasts. Grenades.

Seven masked men burst into their home firing wildly into the darkness. Nasser spent he rest of the night in the hospital waiting as surgeons removed a bullet from his wives leg and grenade shrapnel was removed from his son’s back.

imageThey had been attacked for being polio vaccinators, for which they earned $15 a day for their troubles, and notoriously never paid on time by the Pakistani government.

Many more attacks  on health workers have been rife across the region and some have paid the ultimate price for helping innocent children.

  • One woman had dogs set on her in Dera
  • Another was tortured before she was killed and her body dumped in a field in Peshawar
  • In Karachi, a woman was doused with petrol and set aflame.
  • Two were killed when a Taliban militant tossed a hand grenade into a van filled with polio workers
  • Most attacks are made by a passing motorbike rider with a gun
  • Four workers and their driver were kidnapped and their bodies found the next day.
  • The list goes on

TALIBAN U-TURN

In 2014, the Taliban suddenly made a U-turn issuing a statement offering its support of the vaccine as long as foreigners were not involved and local customs were respected.

It also ordered its fighters to give polio workers “all necessary support”

All of the murder’s I have described here were after the u-turn by the Taliban

Right now there is no indication when the armed conflict between the Taliban and the government will end – or when the Taliban will actually allow vaccinations to help their children in no go areas.

Meanwhile, innocent children suffer form a disease that is preventable. Religion v Science. Which helps the children more?

I rest my case…..

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Find out more about SON and the shows that make up the network at Secular Outreach.com