This report from the Daily Star newspaper demonstrates as how even an immunisation programme could be scarred (in Bangladesh) with uniquely simple style of propaganda.
The full report:
They have taken their malicious campaign against the vitamin A capsule to a new height to tarnish the government’s image. This time, the pro-BNP and Jamaat-Shibir activists have used a photo published in The Daily Star, showing a weeping Rohingya mother holding her newborn in her arms.
On June 20 last year, this paper ran a story, along with the photo taken by its photographer Anurup Kanti Das, on how the newborn’s birth had halted the deportation of the Rohingya family that had been caught on Saint Martin’s Island in Cox’s Bazar.
But a Facebook page named “B.N.P. Bangladesh Nationalist Party (Ziaur Rahman) [Khaleda]” uploaded the same photo yesterday, saying in the caption that the baby had fallen sick after taking the capsule.
The page was opened in April 2011 and has an image of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia as the profile picture.
The pro-BNP and Jamaat-Shibir activists, meanwhile, have posted on their Basher Kella page the photo of a Somalian lady with a sick child, saying the baby fell sick after it had taken the capsule.
Originally, this photo was published in the Guardian on September 6, 2011, with a report headlined, “The worst country in the world to be a sick child”. The story was about the state of health facilities in Chad and Somalia, and the photo was taken by Rachel Palmer of Save the Children in Somalia.
“Children are falling sick after taking vitamin A capsule and other medicines for polio and worms being provided by the government across the country. The children are vomiting, releasing saliva and feeling drowsy after taking those. Many children are dying,” says the post on the “B.N.P. Bangladesh Nationalist Party (Ziaur Rahman) [Khaleda]” page.
Contacted, Ekhlasur Rahman, director of the Institute of Public Health Nutrition, said: “We are monitoring the situation across the country…. We kept some children under observation last night [Wednesday night] at different hospitals in and outside Dhaka. But we did not find any symptom of any children falling ill from taking vitamin A capsule.”
Through 1.4 lakh vaccine centres, the government on Tuesday distributed the capsules for children aged between six months and five years. Since morning that day, rumours did the rounds that kids who took the capsules were falling sick.
In some cases, such campaigns were run through quoting the office of the Directorate of Health, although the office has never made such comments.
For the last few days, the pro-Jamaat-Shibir online activists had been running the campaign through their Basher Kella page.
Earlier, they uploaded on the page a superimposed image of convicted war criminal Delawar Hossain Sayedee, showing Sayedee on the moon.
The photo sparked fierce violence in parts of the country on March 3.