Deadline: 2019-11-08 Award: $30,000 Open to: Everyone*
Pakistan and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) are facing a new challenge, driven by technological advancement and an increasing number of people using social media to seek and share news. Rumors and misinformation about polio vaccination and the program spread like wildfire on social media, including in Pakistan where the number of people with access to internet/smartphone has significantly increased over the past years, and continues to increase.
The negative impact on the programme of the anti-vaccine propaganda and rumors was most visibly seen during a recent vaccination campaign in Peshawar. During a National Immunization Days (NID) campaign, a rumor that the polio vaccine would make children unwell, led to more than 37 000 children rushed to hospital in one day, a basic health unit set on fire, and indirectly the death of several vaccinators and security staff. This coordinated scare tactic had a devastating impact on the NIDs and will continue to impact future immunization efforts in the country.