AFGHANISTAN/NIGERIA/PAKISTAN. I had no idea that vaccination was a hot topic among Muslims, but it turns out it is. And there’s a clear link to Islamistic groups.
In 2011 the CIA staged a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign to find where Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were and after that incident there have been imams in Afghanistan who have issued fatwas against vaccination. They doesn’t care if the children die from a disease that could have been prevented. Instead the children have been declared martyrs because they didn’t fall for the wests conspiracy.
One big problem have been anti-vaccination propaganda that Islamists have spread on the countrysides of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. One example is claiming that vaccinations will make boys sterile, which is an effective lie in a culture were having children is a must. The Talibans pushed the narrative that vaccines contained pork and/or alkohol and therefore was haram.
Violence against vaccination teams occurs from time to time and as last as in September a team was attacked in Pakistan. One person was shot then, but between 2012 and 2017 over 80 vaccination staffers have been killed in Pakistan. Studies in Pakistan show that maternal illiteracy, low parental knowledge about vaccines, poverty and rural residency affect if a child is likely to get vaccinated.
Nigeria is the only country in Africa that are still having trouble with polio and it’s a disease that almost only affect the poor. Many people, both Muslims and Christians, are positive to vaccinations, but there is a mistrust towards so called white medicine and western organizations. Boko Haram have enhanced this fear. They have also attacked and killed vaccination workers. In one case not long ago an imam was arrested for planning these kinds of murders.
For the last year the measles have increased by 30% all over the world and because the high numbers of sick (and dead) children Unicef has started a campaign in Afghanistan to vaccinate 14 million children. Pakistan have also launced a vaccinationprogram that will target 31 million kids. Nigeria have the most unvaccinated children when it comes to the measles and have started a program for the whole country.
When it comes to Indonesia the clergy forbade the use of vaccines against measles and rubella in August, because there is a rumour that it’s gelatine in them. The number of vaccinations dropped immideately. It’s a common belief there that vaccination is a way for the west to control Asia or a Catholic attempt to eradicate Islam. In Malaysia the clergy went the other way and made it compulsory to get vaccinated in 2016.