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Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Sets Example, Gets Publicly Innoculated - 1897

Friday, 1897, January 1

Summer 1897 - Bombay, India was struck by bubonic plague, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah, Aga Khan III had himself publicly innoculated in order to encourage Ismailis and others to follow suit.
' While the famine was devastating various parts of the country, plague in a virulent form, broke out in Bombay and carried thousands of people to the grave. To stem the tide of this dreadful scourge, Professor Haffkine, a well-known bacteriologist, was sent to Bombay by the Government of India with his anti-plague serum, the use of which would have considerably reduces the incidence of mortality.

But the people looked upon the serum with suspicion and raised a hue and cry against inoculation, condemning it as a slow but sure poison. The followers of Prince Aga Khan, a majority of whom lived in the worst affected parts of the town, were also equally opposed to the treatment of doctors.

Prince Aga Khan realised the need for allaying public suspicion and came forward to set a bold example by trying the serum on his own person and ordering his followers to do the same. He also called a meeting of his followers and explained to them the benefits of inoculation. He got himself inoculated several times.

This example had the desired effect of removing suspicion from the public mind. There was a great rush now for the treatment. To meet the requirements of this rush, Prince Aga Khan lent his bungalow free to Dr. Haffkine for his laboratory.' (Malick; 46)


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