Vaccinating Children at Annual Baba Sanwal Festival
Leaving no stone unturned to ensure every child is reached
In order to make sure that no child remains deprived of polio vaccine, all front line workers are contributing their invaluable share towards reaching the target of polio eradication in Pakistan. COMNet social mobilizers, vaccinators and volunteers together go to every mile to take advantage of every opportunity to vaccinate children. One such event was annual festival of Baba Sanwal which is celebrated each year by the Hindu community during the month of April in Jaffarabad, Balochistan where a huge number of Hindu population from all parts of the country.
The families had travelled from different parts of the country to be part of the festivities, were celebrating their annual traditional festival—Baba Sanwal. Hindu community celebrates this festival with a lot of zeal and fervor every year. The festival lasted for three days i.e., from April 2nd to April 4th. A large number of families had travelled from interior Sindh and Baluchistan to participate in the event. These included Khuzdar, Mastung, Kalat, Quetta, Sibi, Jhal Magsi, Bhag, Jaffarabad, Larkana, Shahdad Kot, Kambar, Ghari Khairo, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Shikarpur, Dadu, Ghotki, Sukkur, Mir Pur Khas and other areas of Pakistan.
The COMNet staff held a meeting with the administrator of the event and leaders of Hindu community well ahead of the festival and apprised them about the importance of polio vaccination for children and how it prevents lifelong disability. They were also informed about the establishment of a separate stall to carry out polio immunization activities during the three days of the festival for all children under 5 years of age.
The elders of the community extended a warm welcome to the COMNet staff and promised to get their children immunized from the stall during the upcoming event. In order to create awareness In order to make the immunization stalls visible colourful banners and hoardings were also displayed and a special area was allocated for communication and awareness raising activities.
The OPV vaccination campaign was formally inaugurated by Dr. Ashok Kumar, a respected civil judge belonging to Sehwan Shareef of Sindh and a member of the Hindu community. "It is time for us to play more active role to defeat this crippling disease. We are fighting for the betterment of our future generation and to improve the image of our own country in the world. We have to win this battle," he said.
Dr. Ashok's participation went a long way in generating a very effective response from the parents who made sure that all eligible children get polio vaccine during the festival. Dr. Mukhi, an influential elder of the Hindu Community was also present on the occasion to extend his full support.
In addition to the joyful ambiance at the Baba Sanwal festival in Dera Allahyar, It was heartening to observe that every single family participating in the event was aware of the importance of vaccination against the crippling polio disease. "All I want is to give a healthy and prosperous life to my children," said a woman who rushed to the counter allocated for the vaccinators.
During the three days of the festival the organizers made frequent announcements via loud speaker to draw the attention of parents and sensitize them about life long disability caused by polio virus in Baluchistan. The motivated and well informed parents made every effort to get all their children immunized by taking advantage of the vaccination facility established at the festival site.
As a result of continued efforts of COMNet staff and festival organizers 239 children were administered anti-polio drops during the three days of the festival. As stated in a report compiled by COMNet at the end of the festival, 25 children were administered OPV on first day, 146 on second day while 68 on the last day.
Dr. Ashok Kumar vaccinating child on first day
Honourable Civil Judge