Polio vaccine earns mom a divorce

Himalayan News Service

Kolkata, May 27:

A man who did not want his son to have polio drops has divorced his wife for disobeying him.

The incident in West Bengal’s Paschim Mondalpara village in Murshidabad district has left health workers distraught.

Administrative officials and health workers have sought help of the local Muslim cleric to persuade the man to revoke the divorce.

Mantaj Ali Sheikh didn’t take his son for the polio drops during the routine anti-polio camp on Sunday. The next day, health workers came to his home but he didn’t allow them to administer the oral polio vaccine to his five-day-old son. The volunteers returned to Sheikh’s home several times but were turned away every time.

However, late on Tuesday, one of the volunteers managed to sneak into his house when he wasn’t home and persuaded his wife to let her baby have the polio drops.

When Sheikh came to know of this, he flew into a rage and divorced his wife Tulo Bibi. The hapless wife then went to the health workers seeking redress.

The health volunteers brought the matter to the notice of the district administration.

The cleric is still trying to persuade Sheikh, who has nine children, eight of whom were given polio drops when they were young.

Sheikh says he did not want his youngest son to have polio drops because the government wasn’t taking care of people like him.

“The government can’t give us food and it’s going around giving polio medicines. Food is more important than medicine. Let me see what happens if I don’t administer polio to my ninth child,” the man was quoted as saying in local reports.

West Bengal reported 42 polio cases last year, most of them from Murshidabad, considered the polio cradle of India along with some villages in Uttar Pradesh.