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Fear of impotence
curbs polio vaccinations in Pakistan

Fear of impotence
curbs polio vaccinations in Pakistan

Health officials in Pakistan say 160,000 children have not been immunized against polio because of rumors that the vaccine causes sexual impotence, reported the BBC. Parents told the BBC that they feared an "American conspiracy" to halt the fertility of the next generation.

The World Heath Organization has mounted a $196 million campaign to control the disease in Pakistan, one of four countries they say is a source of polio. In 2006, 1,902 cases of polio were reported worldwide. At least 39 cases of polio were reported in Pakistan, 15 of those from the North-West Frontier Province and tribal areas, where only 20% of people are vaccinated.

Local clerics in the North-West Frontier Province started the rumor on their illegal FM radio stations, the BBC reported. According to NWFP residents, Maulana Fazlullah told listeners that the polio immunization project was "a conspiracy of the Jews and Christians to stunt the population growth of Muslims." Maulana told the BBC that international organizations should help hepatitis-C patients if they really want to improve the health of Muslims.

Last year samples of the polio vaccine were examined in a laboratory after a petition in Peshawar High Court alleged they contained estrogen. According to health official Waheed Khan, none was found.

A 2006 WHO report listed 66 localities that were not immunized due to logistical problems and 320 areas that were poorly immunized due the rumor. In some areas, health workers confronted violence by locals, reported officials. (The Advocate)

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