Over the past year, since the World Health Organization (WHO) intensified its polio vaccination in Pakistan, local administrators have started gross human rights violations in the name of polio eradication.
Parents or guardians, usually of poor segments of the society, are being harassed and even imprisoned under the farcical excuse of maintaining public order when they refuse vaccinations for their children. A recent case of such human rights violations was reported from Kohat region where a district commissioner sent a parent and two health workers to prison because a child was not vaccinated and contracted polio. This is not the first time such persecution of parents has happened in Pakistan. In November 2014, an administrator in Multan (Punjab) issued arrest orders for parents who would refuse vaccination.
This is a mockery of science and slaughter of reason. Millions of unvaccinated children fare well and safe while many children who get vaccinated still get polio.
There is no evidence that polio vaccine prevents polio. In fact, the use of oral polio vaccine (OPV) was stopped long ago in the west because of its proven risk of causing polio – which the authorities term Vaccine Derived Paralytic Polio (VAPP). Only after quitting this vaccine did the polio cases stopp surfacing in the US and the west. In Pakistan and Nigeria as well as in India, where this vaccine is still used, polio cases continue to rise and as the critics of polio vaccine have pointed out, the unvaccinated population is more at risk because of the very vaccine that lets a mutated virus spread in them.
Given these observation, punishing parents for refusing vaccination makes no sense, except that the local authorities in Pakistan are desperate to subserviently please the international donors that fund the vaccination program each year with hundreds of millions of dollars.
This issue is of great concern and Amnesty International as well as other international organizations need to address such issues by actively engaging WHO’s attention. Vaccination is an option everywhere in the developed world, not an imposition. But forcing a vaccine on people, particularly a vaccine that is known to cause epidemics of paralysis, is a terrifying case of state-run and internationally sponsored dictatorship against helpless civilians.