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Anti-polio campaign thwarted by clerics

April 27, 2007

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PESHAWAR, April 26: Parents of about 4,000 children in the district of Swat are said to have refused to let their children be administered polio drops during a three-day anti-polio campaign which ended on Thursday.

A health official told Dawn on that a propaganda campaign launched by local clerics, spearheaded by Maulana Fazlullah was the main stumbling block in carrying out the campaign against the crippling disease.

At least 2,400 people refused to let their children be administered polio drops on the first day of the campaign. Local clerics called upon the people through their FM radio stations that polio drops were a tool being used by western countries, especially the US, to make the next generation of Muslims sexually impotent, said the health official associated with the campaign.

He said that on the last day of the campaign, people in Dewlai, Koza Bandai, Bara Bandai, Dherai, Qambar, Charbagh and Guli Bagh villages of the Swat district denied medical teams access to their areas.