Fears grow as measles running rampant in southern Thailand

3 January, 2019

Extracts below. Full text here: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/fears-grow-measles-running-rampan...

(with thanks to Global Health Now)

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Fears grow as measles running rampant in southern Thailand

Amid deep-rooted vaccination fears, curable disease makes forceful reappearance with thousands of cases and 22 deaths.

by Caleb Quinley

...Even though it's widely accepted that the disease is close to being eradicated, here in Thailand's deep south, the virus has spread rapidly since September, affecting some 3,000 people out of the 4,000 reported cases nationwide and causing the deaths of at least 22 children...

Experts say the recent measles outbreak is the result of a lack of adequate health education, high levels of child malnourishment and dangerous anti-vaccination narratives that have long plagued the area...

"The low vaccine rates are for a couple of reasons: one is that there's a religious element that makes locals misunderstand vaccines. Some of it has to do with misinformation from religious leaders," says Talek, who has been following the outbreak closely.

"Then there's a second issue that there's a 'Zionist conspiracy', or that vaccines are somehow a 'Western invention' that are dangerous."

The predominant religion in Thailand's deep south is Islam, and local adherents are mostly conservative. Although the vast majority have no issue with vaccines, some fundamentalist leaders have grievances with the fact that some vaccinations contain gelatin derived from pork. This is problematic because consuming any kind of pork conflicts with Islamic teachings...

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it's imperative that children have access to vaccinations and that children's rights to health should be prioritised.

"The cause of this outbreak is because certain local Islamic teachers are preaching the vaccine is un-Islamic. With such disinformation, many parents decided not to bring their children to receive vaccination," says Sunai Pasuk, Thailand researcher for HRW...

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Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children:

http://www.hifa.org/projects/citizens-parents-and-children

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG /orcid.org/0000-0001-9557-1487 neil@hifa.org