To dispel doubts among the Muslim community, veteran screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar has also been asked to lend his services.
New Delhi: Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan will be the face for the Union health ministry’s measles-rubella (MR) campaign. Bachchan who has been associated with various health campaigns like polio, Hepatitis B agreed to voice his support for the MR campaign which had to bear the brunt after reports started circulating on social media that the immunisation drive of the ministry was a conspiracy to control Muslim population. To dispel doubts among the Muslim community, veteran screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar has also been asked to lend his services.
The health ministry decided to take host of initiatives by roping in religious leaders of minority communities to circulating videos through social media platforms for the next phase of the vaccination drive which is slated to happen in August in eight states — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Himchal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Launched early this year in five states and UTs, the vaccination campaign was rocked by rumours and received a major show down in the states it was introduced. “Parents started questioning the validity and efficacy of the vaccine and Muslim leaders were not on board when we launched the campaign,” sources said.
Terming it as “crisis response”, the health ministry officials said that they have now taken on board religious leaders and are going to put forth experts opinion to turn away from “myths”. “The campaign will have a backing from none other than Amitabh Bachchan and we also have on board religious leaders. We have asked the religious leaders to motivate people for the vaccine in their Friday prayers,” sources added.
To dispel the doubts, short videos have also been made during vaccination campaign where children and mothers have given their testimonials. “A lot of training programmes have been given. WhatsApp groups have been made in advance. There is a support from other ministries like HRD as well.”
Introduced early this year, the MR vaccine has been launched in five states and UTs. An estimated 2 lakh cases of measles are reported every year with 48,000 children dying due to the killer infection.
“It affects the cognitive development. To protect the brain power, we have to contain both measles and rubella,” said T. Jacob John, chairman child health foundation and one of the members of the expert group on vaccines.