Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Polio in Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning about a possible polio epidemic in Africa. Polio is a water-born disease that hits children especially hard. It can cause paralysis, deformation, muscular atrophy and even death. The new polio numbers are almost double last year's numbers:

The number of polio cases globally has reached 333 so far this year, almost double the number for the same period last year. Total cases last year reached 783.
In Nigeria, where Muslim leaders have refused to participate in immunization program, 257 cases have been reported this year.
"There is no question that the virus is spreading at an alarming pace," said Dr. David Heymann, who is overseeing the U.N. health agency's effort to eradicate the disease.

Polio is preventable through immunization. A major reason for the recent increase is the Muslim leaders' refusal to support this. Some of them believe that the vaccines contain substances which will make Muslim women infertile, and that such doctored vaccines are a Western plot against Islam. It seems like a good idea to have some Muslim researchers subject the vaccine to laboratory analysis to falsify this claim. Or would this not work? Sometimes I really think that grandmothers should be put in charge of this world for a generation or so.