National
WHO hits back at anti-vaccine deniers
Publish Date: May 06, 2014
WHO hits back at anti-vaccine deniers
A boy receives a polio immunisation vaccine
  • mail
  • img
newvision

GENEVA - The World Health Organization has hit back against vaccine deniers who claim that immunisation is pointless, risky and that the body is better off fighting disease unaided.

"The impact of vaccines on people's lives is truly one of the best things that one could see out there," said Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, head of the UN health agency's immunisation and vaccines division.

Opposition to routine vaccination of children against contagious diseases such as measles and whooping cough has been on the rise in recent years, notably in the United States and Britain.

A hardline minority disputes the necessity of vaccination outright, while doubters focus on fears such as the alleged links between measles vaccines and autism, rejected by the overwhelming majority of scientists.

"We're trying hard to contain and reverse the trend," Okwo-Bele told reporters.

"We have a huge proportion of people who believe in vaccines. They need to help us convey the messages," he added.

The total or near-complete disappearance of many killer or crippling diseases in rich nations has bred complacency, according to the WHO.

"The important thing about complacency is that the number of susceptible people who resist or reject facts and information will accumulate, and the disease will come back, as you're seeing in the United States with measles and whooping cough, which are terrible diseases," said WHO immunisation expert Tracey Goodman.

"It's a tragedy that could be avoided," she said.

Just because a disease seems long gone, there is no reason to rein in vaccination against it, according to the WHO.

"All of this needs sustainability. For polio, it's not because your country has been polio-free for 10 or 15 years that there is no risk, so long as the disease has not been completely wiped out worldwide," said Okwo-Bele.

Rolling back vaccination in some countries also undermines the global fight against disease, the WHO warned.

"When we look at the number of people being vaccinated each year, for childhood vaccination we're seeing close to 85 percent being vaccinated, so this is still really good," Okwo-Bele said, underlining that up to three million lives are saved as a result.

"But each new cohort must be vaccinated. We will reap the full benefits of vaccines only if all individuals in all communities receive the vaccines they need. And clearly this is a shared responsibility," he added.

Developing countries have seen resistance in some areas to vaccination, for example in northern Nigeria and Pakistan where polio immunisation campaigns have been dubbed a foreign conspiracy by local opponents.

And war also takes its toll, with polio rearing its head in Syria, previously free of the disease thanks to widespread immunisation.

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
EALA session commences in Kigali
The second meeting of the 3rd Session of the 3rd Assembly commenced in Kigali, Rwanda Tuesday afternoon...
Makerere University has canceled graduation fees increment following a students strike...
Makerere backtracks on graduation fees
Graduation fees will remain unchanged, Makerere University administration has announced....
Amama should declare his interests - DP
THE Democratic Party (DP) has said that short of former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi being held accountable for alleged wrongs committed while still in good books of the NRM...
Pistorius gets five years in jail for killing girlfriend
South African Paralympian star sprinter Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for the killing of his girlfriend last year, as his sensational trial reached a climax....
Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 5 years in prison
SOUTH African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius today learns his sentence for shooting dead his girlfriend on Valentine''s Day last year, bringing an end to a seven-month trial that gripped the nation....
Do Ugandan tycoons prepare their children to take over their business empires?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter