By Jawahir Habib (Click here to see the blog site for all of this author's Communication Initiative blogs.)
73 children were crippled for lifetime in Balochistan province during 2011. The province is located in southwest Pakistan, which reported 60% of polio cases in the world last year. Balochistan borders to Afghanistan and Iran; it constitutes about 45% of the land of Pakistan and only 5.1% of population.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)-supported polio communication network is working on new and innovative ways to support the Government of Balochistan to improve awareness regarding polio disease and vaccination. Focus is placed on promoting the behaviours which can ensure that every child is protected against polio and to change the behaviours which result in resistance against the oral polio vaccine (OPV).
Right before the July polio campaign, an art exhibition was held in the provincial capital. The art exhibition aimed to achieve active engagement of youth in creating awareness regarding the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) and providing students a platform to express their support to the programme.
50 artists from the universities participated in the event; these artists belonged to different areas of the province. In the part of the country where young artists rarely get a chance to express themselves, an art exhibition for awareness raising regarding polio disease and polio campaigns was welcomed by the students.
The artwork was given to the students as an assignment; the artists expressed different aspects of polio eradication. They showed polio effected children living a life with disability, as well as the despair, isolation, and difficulties an affected child faces in his life. The artists showed through their artwork the importance of two drops of polio vaccine and polio eradication campaigns and the power of vaccine to prevent life time disability.
Professor Akram Dost, a famous artist and Head of Department Fine Arts, University of Balochistan, actively participated in conceptualising the event. He said he is extremely pleased that the young artists from Balochistan are provided this opportunity and are engaged in awareness raising for a global emergency. The artists from universities said they are happy to be a part of the exhibition; it provided them a chance to express themselves through exploring different aspects of PEI, and they did their background research on the internet, which helped them to look into human aspect of polio eradication.
Polio can be eradicated and the world has proved it!! Balochistan has reported 3 cases this year as compared to 28 cases same time last year. We are very close to eradicating this disease, and people from every walk of life including young artists are playing their part.
With special acknowledgment to Zia ur Rehman, COMNet, University of Balochistan, Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University, and Bolan Medical College.
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