Polio vaccination Pacific Press/Getty Images

Wanneer populisme dodelijk kan zijn

LONDEN – In sommige gemeenschappen, zowel ontwikkeld als onderontwikkeld, is de afgelopen jaren een ongefundeerde scepsis over vaccins opgekomen als één van de grootste belemmeringen voor de wereldwijde vooruitgang van de volksgezondheid. Het is zelfs één van de primaire redenen waarom uitroeibare infectieziekten vandaag de dag nog steeds bestaan.

Zo is de inspanning om polio wereldwijd uit te roeien bijvoorbeeld verstoord in Afghanistan, Pakistan, en Nigeria, waar machtsuitoefening door islamistische militanten heeft geleid tot een steeds grotere weerstand tegen vaccinatiecampagnes. En veel landen met hoge inkomens hebben de afgelopen jaren met uitbraken van mazelen te maken gehad, als gevolg van een angst voor vaccinaties die is begonnen met de publicatie van een frauduleus artikel in het Britse medische tijdschrift The Lancet in 1998.

Meer recent is de scepsis over de veiligheid van vaccins en hun werking groeiende in Zuid-Europa. Volgens een studie uit 2016 staat Griekenland nu in de mondiale top tien van landen met het laagste vertrouwen in de veiligheid van vaccins. En zoals de Griekse minister van Gezondheid Andreas Xanthos heeft onderstreept komen professionals uit de gezondheidszorg steeds meer ouders tegen die angst hebben om hun kinderen te vaccineren.

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