Haryana: Mewat, Harayana’s Muslim dominated district has the lowest immunization rate for children below 6, which is now become an important issue for the authorities who are now trying to take the issue it to higher authorities .
The immunisation rate in Mewat is 13 per cent, much lower than the state average of 62.2 per cent, according to the National Family Health Survey.
Officials say the rate of immunisation in Mewat is low mainly because of rumours which started spreading more than 3 months back that the vaccines being administered under the Central government’s Indradhanush programme would have a sterilising effect on the children.
With an aim of addressing the situation, top officials of the district and National Health Mission (NHM) on Wednesday held an interaction with the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and the clerics, who agreed to render their help by negating the rumours.
Maulana Yahya Kareemi, president of Al-aman Islamic Centre, Mewat, said he would speak about the “misinformation” related to the immunisation during the prayers at the mosque, including on Fridays when the number of devotees swell.
“We have 400-500 youth coming to our institute every day and the number rises to over a thousand on Fridays. If the administration wants, we can spread the word quelling misinformation related to immunisation,” he said.
The Indradanush programme is aimed at guarding children against diseases like polio, BCG, pentavalent (diptheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis b, haemophilus, influenza type-B) rubella-measles.
“As of now, no such injection or tablet has been invented which could render children sterile,” asserted Mewat Deputy Commissioner Mani Ram Sharma, while rubbishing the rumours. He told the gathering, which included several clerics, that the region has several people affected by polio as the community had skipped the polio vaccination drive 15 years back, again due to unfound apprehensions.
“I see 15-20 physically disabled youngsters coming to see me at my office every day to seek assistance in the form of employment or finances,” the IAS officer said.
“We can tell only you (the ASHAs and religious leaders), but it is for you to spread the word among the stakeholders and raise awareness at the grassroot level,” Sharma said. Director of the National Health Mission in Haryana Amaneet P Kumar also rejected the rumours and said, “They are wrong. We should have faith in science.”
The ASHA workers highlighted the reasons saying,”People hurl strong words at us, they shut their doors at us but we still make an effort to go back to such houses to ensure that no child is left out,” said 48-year-old Rehmani, ASHA at Karedi village in Nagina block.
Raziya, ASHA coordinator at Mewat said, “At present there are 874 ASHAs in Mewat as against a stipulated requirement of over 1400” . As per the guidelines, she said, one ASHA is required for every thousand people.
“Its ramifications would not appear now but after 15-20 years,” remarked Qureshi, CEO of Haryana waqf Board. Appealing to the community members for support in the immunisation drive, Qureishi said,”But the people have a freedom of choice, no decision can be imposed on them”.
“This is your (religious leaders’) responsibility to spread the message for welfare of the children, both for their safety as well as education,” he added.