Gujarat minister criticises fatwa against polio vaccine

via PTI published on November 5, 2006

Vadodara: Criticising a fatwa issued by a cleric asking Muslims not to administer polio drops to their children, Gujarat Health Minister Ashok Bhatt today said this could affect the mass vaccination drive in the country.

Bhatt was reacting to a misinformation campaign in Muslim-dominated areas of Godhra that claimed polio drops caused infertility.

According to social activist Saleem Ismail Sheikh from Godhra, the Urdu monthly Tameer-e-Hayat published from Lucknow had carried an article in its September issue that questioned the effectiveness of the polio vaccine and said it caused infertility. It gave the example of Nigeria where it claimed ulemas have issued a fatwa against polio drops.

Because of this misinformation campaign, 413 of a total of 490 recent polio cases were reported from the country, Bhatt said.

Bhatt said he would investigate as to who circulated such a fatwa and take action against them after investigation.

Panchmahal district’s Development Officer R J Patel, in-charge of the  polio vaccination campaign in Godhra and other parts of the district, said a meeting of local Muslim leaders would be held on November 9


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