I have tried not to have a public comment on this topic given the heated debate in the recent weeks that saw the leadership of the Catholic Church in Kenya being on the opposing side with the State who by all intent and purpose, were just performing one of their cardinal duty as Government.
My comment suffices now after the government announced a major success in the disputed polio vaccination by what people are saying, is the Catholic Church. Let’s not get it twisted; the Catholic Church did not at anytime object to the polio vaccination campaign targeting children below the age of 5.The objection was purely an issue raised by the leadership of the Catholic Church with an allegation that the vaccination contained elements that would cause an automatic family planning to those receiving it and it is a foreigner`s way of controlling Kenya`s population!
I was reminded of another vaccination (Tetanus) that made it to the limelight not long time ago still with the leadership of the Catholic Church claiming that it had the same issue and this went into a testing stage in a bid to resolve the impasse but the public were never informed of what came out of that process for us to know if the church were wrong or not.
Why am I interested in this subject? Many of you would obviously know that according to medics, they will call me a polio survivor. I know what it means for someone to have been attacked by polio and I was a bit confused when the leadership of the Catholic Church was trying to instruct their followers to chase away those administering the polio vaccination in the just concluded campaign. It meant that, my wife could have refused our 12 weeks son to be vaccinated against polio if she had followed what the leadership of her church were saying and yet I am a protestant and we had no issue with the vaccination which is actually meant to prevent him from contracting polio the same way I did when I was 2 years, three decades ago!
When I was in high school, I remember studying in Christian Religious Education (CRE) of what can go wrong when the church tries to meddle in the affairs of the state or vice versa and still if the State goes in bed with the Church. I reflected on this and begun to understand why there was a misunderstanding between the leadership of the Catholic Church and the Kenyan government, the Church was trying to prevent the government from performing one of its duties atleast for the second time and it was calling on the flock to be disobedient to a lawful request by the State. I might not have been to a theological school but I don’t remember a place in the Bible where those supposed to offer guidance, reconciliation and be well-meaning to the flock are the ones telling them to disobey the government of the day in a matter which is actually beneficial to the flock!
While polio is preventable, it is not treatable as we speak and this informs why the government is serious in its efforts to wipe out polio out of Kenya just as Nigeria did. I can guarantee you, there is no one single leader from the Catholic Church who understands the cost of having a disability in this country and if there was, they would be a little empathetic with the small children who are being saved from polio which eats into someone`s nerves system making you loose the use of your limps.
If these leaders had a family member who has suffered polio, they would know that even all the schools sponsored by their Church cannot be accessed by people like us and thus discriminatory and would wonder why they would still wish that to the future generations! The cost of educating a child with a disability is even ten times more depending on the nature of the disability and our government has shied away from making that investment thus if there are opportunities for preventing some causes of disability, why would a well-meaning institution be against that?
As Kenyans, we must be awake to leaders in whichever field bent to mislead us even on issues that are purely medical and do not need spiritual guidance, we should not stand scenarios where a part of our society is opposed to nearly everything even when there are no reason for the same.
Lets help in preventing causes of disabilities that are preventable we should not wish a disability on anyone if there are ways we can prevent it. We are already many of us and our country doesn’t care of us enough, we still have road accidents adding members to this club of ours where one needs-no application and other causes too.
Join hands in kicking out polio but not with that 18th century polio campaign photo, that photo eats into my being, it presents me as un-wanted “thing” there are better photos that can be used for the campaign as opposed to photos that defiles our image as polio survivors.