PESHAWAR, June 24: A local organisation will air programmes on FM radio to promote immunisation and protect children against vaccine-preventable ailments in three selected union councils of Swat.
The Awakening, which recently won one of five projects awarded by the Canada's Sandra Rotman Centre, is trying to reach the people, who were inaccessible in the past, for vaccination.
“A local cleric has banned vaccination after Shakil Afridi’s alleged fake campaign in Abbottabad. We have formed a delegation of respected scholars to convince him and allow immunisation,” Irfan Hussain Babak, director of The Wakening, said.
He said that alongside radio programmes from Da Aman Awaz (Voice of Peace) radio, they had employed local women, who were visiting houses in the three union councils including Islampura, Sangota and Kokorai to hold sessions with mothers and educate them about significance of vaccination.
Mr Babak said that four programmes would be on air early next month from the local radio to provide detailed information to the listeners regarding immunisation and its benefits.
“Each programme will be of one-hour duration during which live questions will be taken from the callers and answered by officials concerned. Prevention of disease through vaccination will be the main message we want to send across the community,” he said.
Vaccination experts from executive district health office will be invited to the programmes to make them more informative and interesting for the people.
Mr Babak said that there were misconceptions about vaccination in Swat as the area remained under the influence of Taliban between 2007 and 2009. “We want do away with these misconceptions and create demand for vaccination against eight diseases,” he said.
He said that their people suffered greatly over the years and child mortality rate from the preventable diseases was high.
Most of the people lived in mountains and they didn’t know about vaccine and its impact on children health, he said.
He said that his organisation had formed village health committees. “We are also planning to hold stage dramas in schools during the four-month project. We are targeting mothers because they are the ones, who really take interest in health and wellbeing of their children,” he added.
Mr Babak said that the programmes on radio were planned to reach those areas where local clerics were opposed to vaccination. Efforts would be made to sensitise mothers that vaccination would save their children from host of ailments, he added.
“If we educate women regarding the importance of vaccination, we can achieve 100 per cent coverage,” he said.
Mr Babak said that Swat district recorded 22 polio cases when it remained under the Taliban in 2009 as they didn’t allow vaccination and considered it a plot by the US to make the recipients infertile and impotent.
Taliban propagated against vaccination and stopped parents from immunising their children against the disease, he said.
After defeat of Taliban, Swat had not recorded any case but still virus was in circulation in few of the target 25 villages, he said.