Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Politics of Polio

Despite the Vatican's fancy that - but for the sins of U.S. drug companies - disease in Africa would be wiped out, the problems are actually complex and many:

Immunizing toddlers with mouth drops has reduced the number of polio cases from 350,000 children annually in the 1980s to fewer than 800 worldwide last year. Yet the virus is spreading again from Nigeria, where UN officials say a third of the world's cases are the result of a vaccine boycott.

Amid rising tensions worldwide between Muslims and the West, Nigeria's Muslims are heeding allegations that the vaccine is a U.S. plot to spread AIDS or infertility.

Since October, three northern Nigerian states have banned door-to-door vaccinations until they are satisfied the vaccines do not contain harmful substances.

"Since Sept. 11, the Muslim world . . . is beginning to be suspicious of any move from the Western world," said Sule Ya'u Sule, spokesman for the governor of Kano, one of the states where the vaccine is banned. "Our people have become really concerned about polio vaccine."
This statement is reflective of the blame America first (and for everything else) mentality. We suffer an attack perpetrated by religious fundamentalists so it is us that should be viewed suspiciously. Huh? Taken to its logical conclusion this means.... well it means there is no logic so I'm not going to look for it. It's conspiracy theory so thick that some choose to just die because they think the U.N. may be killing them. Here's more:
But fears mounted last year after Datti Ahmed, a Kano physician who heads a prominent Muslim group, the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, said polio vaccines were "corrupted and tainted by evildoers from America and their Western allies."

Subsequent tests initiated by the federal government in Nigeria and South Africa proved the vaccines were free of all harmful substances, officials say.

"We believe that modern-day Hitlers have deliberately adulterated the oral polio vaccines with anti-fertility drugs and contaminated with certain viruses which are known to cause HIV-AIDS," Ahmed, in glasses and a threadbare gray robe, said from his front porch in Kano.

Ahhh there we have it. The typical Islamo-Fascist battle cry cliche', mention American evildoers, make the Hitler comparison and create more sick and dying Muslims that can be blamed on the infidel. But these are the obstacles that we have and will continue to face. It's almost as baffling as it is tragic. Of course there are countless Nigerians that gladly benefit from the vaccine and modern medicine and if you think that these types of conspiracy theories (wacky as they are) are unique to Muslim culture then you need to ask some people where AIDS and crack may have originated. Even so, it's tempting to say that if we aren't going to be appreciated, lets keep our money and medicines for ourselves and go home. But that would be the wrong choice. We are the United States, and amidst all of our imperfections, this is what we do.


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