Feb 052014
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADr Jewat Sunder with children in a village in Khipro Sindh is reading the audio book about polio. (Photo: Malik Ayub Sumbal)

“This is the story of a family who lives in a village. Rahim Ullah is 13 years old, his sister Batool is 10, and his brother Gullu is only 4. Their parents work hard so they can stay healthy. But their neighbour Amina died because of polio.”

Rahmi Ullah vows to protect his brother and sister from polio.

“Polio is a disease that attacks small children. The virus spreads quickly and it paralyses kids for the rest of their life and sometimes even takes their life. “

The story is part of the audio book “A Story of Health” narrated in Urdu and Pashto, published by the humanitarian group, the Pakistan Rotary International.

The group’s chief, Aziz Memon, says it’s a perfect book for a country with many illiterate people like Pakistan.

“This was the idea of Rotarians in South Carolina, in the US. They came up with the idea, we took it forward, design the book. “The Story of Health” is focused on polio.”

Pakistan is currently one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

Last year, more than 80 polio cases were reported and half were from the Khyber Pukthunkwa province.

The ruling Pakistan Threek-e-Insaaf party is now running a high profile campaign to eradicate polio.

Led by party leader Imran Khan, the campaign aims to vaccinate more than 2 million children in the province in the coming months.

Khan has been joined by radical cleric Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, known as the “Father of the Taliban”.

In the past few years, health workers were targeted and even killed by the Taliban for giving polio vaccinations.

But now Khan is calling all parents to immunize their children, saying that the vaccination complies with Islamic law.

Religious scholar Moulvi Dost Muhammad supports the claim.

“There’s nothing bad or wrong with polio drops. And there’s widespread propaganda by non-state actors to make this vaccination campaign controversial. The world has already eradicated polio, but we are still among the last ones to do so.”

Some 80 thousand children in the Khyber Pakthunkwa province did not receive oral polio vaccines last year.

As a polio vaccinator in Peshawar, Ahmed Mustafa supports the new campaign.

“We will completely eradicate polio from Pakistan. And 2014 will be the last year for polio as the government has kick-started a progressive campaign with the help of religious scholars.”

The distribution of 5,000 copies of the polio audio book has raised hopes that Pakistan will soon be polio-free.

Mahira Khan, a mother from Islamabad, is ready to tell her children a story from the book.

“This is a great idea from Rotary International – to give a strong message to children through music and story books. This is designed with young kids in mind.”

© Copyright 2013-2017 by Rotary District 7770 Rotary International District 7770, Eastern South Carolina