Monday, March 20, 2006


Via New York Times, Rumor, Fear and Fatigue Hinder Final Push to End Polio

BAREILLY, India — The cry went up the moment the polio vaccination team was spotted — "Hide your children!"

Some families slammed doors on the two volunteers going house to house with polio drops in this teeming city's decrepit maze of lanes, saying that they feared the vaccine would sicken or sterilize their children, or simply that they were fed up with the long drive to eradicate polio.

"We have a lot of other problems, and you don't care about those," shouted one woman from behind a locked door. "All you have is drops. My children get other diseases, and we don't get help."

This is a real important, and tragic, public health story -- whose epicenter is India's Hindi heartland. A must-read.


Anonymous said...

If the effort, NYTimes puts into India-bashing, was put into growing rice, world hunger would be solved.

Primary Red said...

Being defensive is hardly useful -- this is a real issue; the sooner we resolve it, the sooner we take away an opportunity for NYT or others to complain against India. No?

Best regards

libertarian said...

Agree. NYT is no friendly messenger. But the problem is real.

history_lover said...

I second libertarian.The problem is real.My sister working in Aligarh district (in Western UP) has found people resisting the polio drive.They don't seem to trust the government.

Anonymous said...

There is also a religious angle to it, and many who resist are doing it for religious reasons, some even thing that the polio vaccine will make their kids sterile.

Anonymous said...

hey not a hindi heartland problem but a muslim india (UP) problem - happens when one muslims marries his cousin who is already the product of a sibling union....and then their offspring eat human faeces (their own) from the gutter closeby...definitely not a hindu problem here..

Pavan said...

PR: Please disable anonymous comment posting ability on your blog. Trust me, that'll improve the standard of some of the comments you see here.

Primary Red said...

You are right, Pavan. Thanks for the tip.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Having worked with a Rotary organization and involved in the Polio Eradication Program, I could not agree with the perspective provided by NYT on the 'ignorance' of the Indian Public. NYT should know that the polio has been practically eradicated in most parts of the country, even though, in some areas it is showing up again.

NYT missed the whole perspective in the story. Before bashing on the Indian Ignorance and Vulnerability, it should have focused on the quality of communication strategy formulated by the NGOs implementing such programs.

The quality of communication strategy is very important in this context, this is where most of the NGOs fail in India. Once these organizations receive funds, believe me most of the NGOs are today turned out to be 'jack of all trades', they hire volunteers and knock of peoples doors, with out any preparatory works.

Both the donors and NGOs are responsible for this state of affairs. None of these guys know about the importance of a communication strategy and the need to condition the people, true poor families have many problems and most of them may not know risk of vulnerability impacts of Polio. Media has a great role to play in addressing this shortcoming, since most of the fund comes from donors. In this context, I would not consider NYT comments negatively, but will treat as an eye opener on the quality of NGO intermediation in India.

The bottom line is to make the NGOs accountable on the quality and effectiveness of NGOs. This ,of course, lead to the big question of regulating the so called unregulated NGO sector.

Can we or should we regulate NGO to make them more accountable and responsible in their activities. It is not an easy question.

Best, Visionary


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