Here’s What the Anti-Vaccine Movement Looks Like from Africa

Here's What the Anti-Vaccine Movement Looks Like from Africa

I would like you all to imagine a different reality. Take a moment and visualize what life would be like if 15-25 percent of the children in your town died before the age of five. The deaths aren’t easy. They are often excruciatingly painful for both the dying child and the family. You have no idea why or how this has happened.

Welcome to rural Africa. In villages people eat organically, move every day and yet die of easily treatable diseases at an incredibly disparate rate. It is rare that you see an anti-vaccination advocates in these parts. Rather, vaccination drives and healthcare advocacy tends to take center stage, and for good reason. If you watch a child suffer from measles, it’s very difficult to conclude that the amount of mercury in a vaccination could be more dangerous than a disease that takes more than 100,000 lives each year.

In Uganda, where I live, 63 percent of children remain unvaccinated. When you drive into rural communities, coffins that are small, plain and built to hold children are sold on the side of the road, in plain sight. Death is neither hidden nor sterilized in these parts. In clinics, posters are nothing like those in the west, full of sweet smiling children and milestone markers. Here there are pictures of children with polio, children with measles and pictures of children who likely succumbed to their disease. Vaccinations are promoted, but rural clinics with threadbare resources don’t always have these treatments in stock…

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