Diphtheria deaths in Malappuram: The fallacies of the faithful

Last Modified: Sat Jul 09 2016 10:56:47 GMT+0530 (India Standard Time)
  • 1,70,000
    children in the 0-16 age group had not been immunised in Malappuram based on a survey conducted in September 2015. Ironically, this is a district in Kerala with 94% literacy rates!
  • 12
    deaths reporting so far in 2016 from just one hospital. Thomas Bina, head of the Community Medicine Department at the medical college, says cases with symptoms of diphtheria have been coming to the hospital since 2011. Data compiled by the department show that while there were five cases each in 2014 and 2015.
  • 2
    primary reasons why children have not been immunised:
  • #1
    propaganda in Muslim dominated Malappuram that vaccines — which may contain microbes, chemicals, and animal-derived products — are essentially haram, or forbidden by Islamic law. This is hotly contested by Sheikh Mohammed Karakkunnu, assistant amir, Jamaat-e-Islami, Kerala, says there is nothing un-Islamic about vaccination. He blames differences between doctors of various systems of medicine for the slack vaccination in many pockets of Malappuram. Homoeopathy and naturopathy doctors are unleashing a campaign against vaccination, he alleges.
  • #2
    Even as the deaths began to rise in Set last , a 500-strong group of so-called alternative healers, led by Jacob Wadakkancherry, had marched from the District Collector’s bungalow through Malappuram town, speaking out against vaccination. A few days later, they organised a family meeting of those who have abjured vaccinations. The District Medical Office videotaped both events for taking action, but the “order from the top” was to maintain silence, says Dr. Farook, District Medical Officer, Malappuram.
  • 40,000
    children have mercifully been immunised in the period Sept 2015 to June 2016. But with 1,30,000 lot more needs to be done to prevent a full blown tragedy.