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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Facebook blocks 31 accounts for propagating against polio vaccination

The polio cases are rising in Pakistan. Experts believe that it is largely due to the prevailing social opposition in some parts of the country where people are reluctant to get their children vaccinated. In such a scenario, Facebook has taken down 31 accounts campaigning against polio in Pakistan.

News Analysis |

In an interesting move, Facebook blocked 31 accounts/pages on Tuesday. The accounts have been shut down by the Facebook authorities after the Pakistani government requested them to do so.

According to details, after a vicious campaign was launched on social media against the polio vaccine, Facebook blocked as many as 31 accounts/pages involved in propaganda against vaccination in Pakistan on the request of the government’s polio program.

On Monday, rumors were circulated on social media that a one-year-old girl had died in Swabi due to the polio vaccine, to which people started questioning the utility of the polio vaccine.

Representatives of international partners and donors also assured their continued cooperation to the government in support of the polio eradication mission.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio, Babar Bin Atta, said while talking to the media; “Print and electronic media showed responsibility and decided to wait till getting the autopsy report of the deceased. However, an organized campaign was launched on the social media that the girl had died because of the vaccine and people should not vaccinate their children,” he said.

Moreover, “as per the autopsy report, the girl died due to suffocation as a peanut got stuck in her throat. Just after getting the report we contacted Facebook and officially launched a campaign against those accounts which were involved in propaganda against the vaccine,” he said.

Mr. Atta said that within one hour Facebook blocked all those accounts/pages so that they would not continue their malicious campaign against the polio vaccine. “We are thankful to Facebook for cooperating with us. We have also taken the polio team members into confidence that they should share the pro-polio vaccine posts with those who hesitate to vaccinate their children due to the campaign,” he said.

Read more: Rise of Polio cases: PM Khan to lead an anti-polio campaign himself

Polio Cases in Pakistan

With the latest addition, the number of polio cases climbed to 53 this year, far more than last year’s figure of 12. In sharp contrast, only eight cases were confirmed in 2017. The five new victims, including two girls, belonged to Bannu, North Waziristan, and Charsadda, with the youngest of them only 22 months old.

An official of Polio Virology Laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH), requesting anonymity, said three cases were reported from Bannu and one each from North Waziristan and Charsadda. “During investigations, it emerged that not a single child was vaccinated during polio and routine immunization campaigns, as their parents apparently did not allow the children to be vaccinated,” he concluded.

Countering Polio

Recently, Prime Minister Khan said that polio eradication was the top-most priority of the government as it affected the future generation. He stressed upon the need for a robust Ehsaas Polio Partnership for implementation of the two vital programs.

The army representative assured full support to polio teams in their efforts to reach out to the children in far-flung areas of the country.

Read more: Dr. Sania teams up with Bill Gates against polio and poverty

Last month, the Taliban have issued a written warning to polio workers to stop their duties otherwise they will be responsible for any damage that happens to them. It has been creating challenges for the provincial government to address the critical situation.

Representatives of international partners and donors also assured their continued cooperation to the government in support of the polio eradication mission.

Deputy Director of Polio Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Dr Tim Peterson presented a letter of appreciation from Bill Gates to Prime Minister Khan for efforts being made to eliminate the crippling disease.