Pakistan’s decades-long struggle against polio is facing a new challenge – social media.
Dr Rana Safdar, National Coordinator for the country’s Polio Eradication Program, told Dawn newspaper that print and electronic media have been sensitized over the last few years about reporting on polio vaccination campaigns.
However, the challenge is coming from a more unlikely quarter. “Whenever a campaign is started against polio vaccination on social media, we face resistance,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
"An overall 97% decline in number of #polio cases from 306 in 2014 to only 8 in 2017 is encouraging, but we are striving for a magical number ‘Zero‘," says NEOC Coordinator Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar during the National #Polio Management Team (NPMT) meeting in Islamabad. #endpolio pic.twitter.com/I0RxRVJiml— Pak Fights Polio (@PakFightsPolio) March 20, 2018
According to him, old videos, which have already been rebutted many times, were uploaded to social media. He was referring to a video circulated in which a person claimed that children were being killed by the polio vaccine.
“During the investigation it was revealed that the video was dubbed or edited and a new voice message was included in it,” he is quoted to have said. Dr. Safdar said that they have been trying to stop the circulation of such videos.
It has been observed that the program needs support of all segments of the society in conveying the right messages to communities that continue to fall prey to negative propaganda related to vaccinations.