As radical Islamist outfits run a vicious campaign against vaccination, dreaded Diphtheria takes its toll on many lives in Malappuram District
Arun Lakshman, Thiruvananthapuram
The dreaded Diphtheria is on a comeback in Kerala, to be precise in Malappuram District of Kerala, the district with the highest number of Muslims in the state and the second largest Muslim population in the country. Diphtheria which generally attacks children under the age of 5 has now got the lives of two youngsters, one 14 years of age and the second 20 years old. In a detailed study, it has been found that Malappuram District has around 1,50, 000 children under 16 years who are not vaccinated. The reason, Islamic fatwa by a group of religious organisations and Islamic teachers who have both covertly and overtly created a panic among the people that both the Union Government and the State Government in tandem with Multinational pharma companies are in the process of sterilisation of youths of Malappuram to reduce the growing population of the Muslim community.
Both highly educated and illiterate people have fallen prey to such a malicious campaign created by a group of Islamic fundamentalists which has now grown into a major health issue threatening the lives of several children and adults as Diphtheria is now showing signs of attacking adult population also. In a queer development, senior professors, doctors, Post Graduate students and house surgeons of Kozhikode and Thrissur medical colleges are getting themselves vaccinated to prevent any attack of Diphtheria. Diphtheria being a contagious disease has a history of taking the lives in one among three who are infected by it.
Health workers who conducted a survey immediately after two children in the age group of 10 and 12 succumbed to Diphtheria as early as September 2015, found that in Malappuram District the vaccination is less than 72 per cent while other districts of the state have reported a percentage of more than 92. The break up shows that there are 6271 children below the age of 1 who have not been vaccinated. While 31,299 Children between 1 and 5 years have not been vaccinated, the number of children between 5-7 and 7-18 who fall into the same category has been estimated as 26,279 and 1,71,728 respectively. The statistics shows that the district is totally lagging behind other districts of the state in terms of vaccination and it would lead to the spread of contagious diseases in the state as most of these diseases are waterborne and airborne.
In Malappuram District, Indian Union Mulsim League is the major political party which has 18 MLA’s in the state assembly and which had 5 ministers in the previous UDF regime. It will have to provide answers to the general public as to what the party has been doing to educate the masses on the necessity of vaccination among the general masses. The successive governments have also miserably failed in the district as there is a fear among both the LDF and the UDF which are presently in power and in the opposition respectively that if a strong action is taken regarding vaccination, the electoral fortunes of these outfits would wane as there is a strong religious movement in fore in this district .The CPM’s wily leader the late EMS Namboodiripad had carved out the Malappuram District as a Muslim majority district when he was Chief Minister of the state. CPM has no answers to offer on this grave health threat to the masses as the party feels that it would be blamed by the general public following such a threat of a contagious disease spreading.
The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan has of late come out with a strong stand that those who have not get the children vaccinated and those who are spreading canards against the government drive on vaccination will face the music. However it has to be seen whether the Chief Minister who has always been a pro-Muslim in his political career would turn his words into action.
With the threat of Diphtheria and other contagious diseases going for a comeback in Malappuram District, it is high time that the government and its agencies come out strongly and stringently against those who are opposing the vaccination and immunisation drive in the district and prevent further spread of such deadly diseases and save lakhs of children from a major catastrophe.