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Moradabad businessman helps polio drive

© UNICEF/India/2007
Munna Bhai administering polio drops in Karula

By Shamila Sharma

Moradabad : Moradabad, a town in western Uttar Pradesh known for the polio virus, is witnessing a number of individuals making invaluable contribution to the eradication initiative.
One such figure is Munna Bhai, owner of a petrol filling station and a brassware export firm in Karula, a high risk area for polio.

For over five years now, his filling station has become the venue for all polio meetings in the block and polio booths in every round. Posters with his appeal for immunizations are put up at vital places while Munna Bhai himself accompanies vaccinators, whenever required, to break tough opposition to polio vaccine by households.

At his brassware factory, Munna Bhai ensures that all his 1500 employees - mostly Muslims and from high risk areas of Karula and Tajpur - are intimated about the dates for polio rounds and counseled about the need for immunization.

How it all began
It all started in 2002, recalls Munna Bhai. “One day while sitting at my filling station I saw a group of people, carrying record books and ice boxes. It was a hot day and they had taken refuge under a small shed near my petrol pump.

“These people came again the next day. I offered them to come inside my office and hold their meeting. They then told me all about the disease and the eradication drive.

“They took me along with them where I saw their activities and felt it was important to spare time for the programme. As those affected by the disease belonged to the poorest section and it was essential to educate them about the disease and its prevention,” he says.

Taking the first initiative in his factory, Munna Bhai allowed polio teams to educate his workforce about the disease and the importance of immunisation.

Today, the public address system in his factory is used regularly to announce polio immunization dates. Also banners, notifying booth dates, are regularly put up in the factory.

A polio booth is set up at his filling station during every round. In the last round, Munna Bhai even called an entertainment team to draw children.

Apart from this, he regularly holds Ijtemas/ Milads in his house to educate mothers about polio vaccination. These meetings are held in the afternoons where they are given religious sermons followed by a talk on general health and polio eradication.

UNICEF’s district coordinator, Tatheer Raza Zaidi, who also works closely with Muslim institutions to garner support for polio eradication, says “ Munna Bhai’s meetings in madrasas has helped effectively engage religious leaders in the polio programme. .

He describes Munna Bhai as the main facilitator for the programme in Karula.

“He provides all required logistic support to the polio teams,” says Tatheer.

Munna Bhai was the first from the exporting community to support polio programme. He has influenced a number of his friends, other exporters and businessmen of the area to join the polio eradication initiative, says Tatheer.

Two of his four sons also contribute regularly to the programme in a similar manner.

Besides supporting polio programme, Munna Bhai also runs a school for the poor, where at present 400 children are being given free education. He has also ensured that all his employees learn to read and write their names.



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