targeting vaccine teams: and now nigeria

this seems to be the first time workers were killed in nigeria, despite previous opposition to vaccines.

on thursday, a controversial islamic cleric spoke out against the polio vaccination campaign, telling people that new cases of polio were caused by contaminated medicine.

more on targeting vaccination workers here.

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3 thoughts on “targeting vaccine teams: and now nigeria

  1. AJ in GR says:

    I heard about this on NPR a couple days ago.

    I can’t figure out how acts like these happen in a country where polio strikes so many children. Any nincompoop could figure out that the polio vaccine is an effective way to save children from death or from a handicapped existence. So ignorance is not the cause.

    So, is it fear? Fear of God’s retribution for not living exactly as Mohammed did?
    Fear that women will have easier lives with fewer handicapped children to take care of? Fear that women will gain power over men? Fear that Nigerians will see that the Western way of life has some advantages and leave the dark ages behind?

    Sometimes I wish there would be a “hell” for those killers to go to after death. Won’t they be surprised? No virgins in hell!

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    • hi! it may be, in part, precisely because there is still a lot of polio that leads to circumscribed faith in the vaccine. and, indeed, with imperfect cold-chain supply mechanisms, it may be that delivered vaccines have not always been as effective as they should have been or that we did not adequately understand the need for boosters.

      there does seem to be, however, a particular fear among some muslims, from india to nigeria, that vaccines (and mass vaccination campaigns) are an attempt to sterilize or infect people rather than help them (it’s not a totally irrational fear that a state would try to control the fertility of some of its members, perhaps especially minorities and/or those that tend to have larger families – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-gave-birth-control-to-ethiopian-jews-without-their-consent-8468800.html).

      there has been, in other places and times, more faith in ‘vaccine diplomacy’ and reports of battlers in the midst of a war taking a break to allow a vaccine campaign to proceed before resuming fighting. my hope is that indonesia or, more pertitently, egypt – which recently saw new polio cases from pakistan – will take a role in building or restoring faith in this fairly basic preventitive health measure. saudi arabia’s vaccine requirements for the hajj may play a similar, important role that could perhaps be emphasized more strongly (http://www.hajinformation.com/main/p3001.htm)

      it is precisely because vaccines (and other basic measures to prevent child mortality) are so important that charles kenny and others put forward a petition to the US government to make sure that security and defense organizations (like the CIA) did not mix public health campaigns with other aims (like finding bin laden), to preserve the fragile trust that exists around them and certainly to protect the health workers trying to administer vaccines.

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