Friday, September 15, 2006

Beam Me Aboard, Scotty: No Intelligent Life Here II

It's reported in yesterday's Scotsman that the work of the WHO in vaccinating kids against the dreaded polio virus is being stymied because many in Africa, particularly Nigerian Muslims, believe it is a secret western plot to sterilize their children, infect them with the HIV virus, and so on and so on and so on.

Interestingly enough, this theory has adherents among conspiracy theorists in the west, all of whom if they were as old as I am would know better than to repeat this damned infernal foolishness.

Ross Upshur, a 'medical ethicist' guessed it, quoted as saying (with respect to the issue of informed consent) "There's no point to controlling infectious diseases if you've violated communities' dignities and rights in the process." Umm, there IS a point and that is protecting the rest of us who are smart enough to have figured this out, from those who haven't or who won't because the preacher tells them different. You'd think Ross never heard of Mary Mallon, a/k/a Typhoid Mary. You control disease first whether people like it or not, and you save the arguments for later.

Lest you think me too harsh, we do have cases of polio right here in the US, primarily among the children of religious recluses who do not believe in vaccination.

You can read about Ross Upshur here:

I am going to speculate a little bit here. I am going to speculate that this is the sort of snappy one liner that will be twisted about until Dr. Upshur is asked to explain it at every occasion he gets up to speak. It also shows that Dr. Upshur grew up in the age after the grim spectre of polio was challenged and vanquished by the genius of one Dr. Jonas Salk, and therefore does not realize that the goal has to be slaying the dragon first, last, and always. Then, folks like him can natter to their heart's content.


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