25,000 children in Pakistan rushed to hospital after spread of false polio vaccine rumours

27 April, 2019

From The Telegraph news site. Comment from me below. Read online: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/04/23/25000-children-pakistan-rush...

--

'More than 25,000 children were rushed to hospital in northwest Pakistan after the spread of unfounded rumours that a polio vaccine led to fainting and vomiting.

The scare, which travelled widely online, followed inaccurate reports that students attending a private school in a village near Peshawar fell sick after receiving their polio drops.

Many residents of the region have long been suspicious of the vaccine with local militants and extremists claiming it is a Western conspiracy to harm or sterilise children.

After hearing speculation that students had fallen ill during the three-day immunisation campaign, local mosques used their loudspeakers to warn parents against their children receiving the vaccine.

A scaremongering Twitter video was also published where a man instructed local children to faint because they had been “poisoned” by the drops.

Panic quickly turned to anger and a mob of around 500 people set fire to a local health care centre. There were no reports of injuries.

Authorities in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa did little to dampen fears, instead declaring an emergency at major hospitals in three provincial districts.

Concerned parents then rushed their children to hospitals despite them suffering no side effects, according to an AFP reporter in the city of Peshawar.

Their qualms were swiftly alleviated by doctors who proved that none of the children had suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccination.'

--

Comment (NPW): If this news report is accurate, then religious leaders continue to spread misinformation and cause panic, rather than working with public health professionals. 'Authorities' appear to have fuelled the situation even further by declaring an emergency at major hospitals. Meanwhile, we hear that yet another polio vaccine worker has been killed by militants, with a second critically injured (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/world/asia/polio-vaccine-pakistan.html).

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children:

http://www.hifa.org/projects/citizens-parents-and-children

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org