sometime ago, i wrote on the recent rise of the polio epidemic in the north and its inextricable link to the 1996 Pfizer drug company scandal. as a result of the unethical practices undertaken by Pfizer during that time period, many northerners to this day remain wary of immunization campaigns, and understandably so.
the mysterious aftermath of the Pfizer scandal and the very real possibility that some communities are still perceived to be susceptible to be used as human guinea pigs (please see Naapali's comment on that post) has caused many parents of Plateau state to refuse the polio vaccine for their children. the health minister of the state, Dr. Angela Miri in response has called for punitive measures against parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated stating that the behavior of such parents is "very shameful and uncalled for."
while i acknowledge that the vaccination of children against the life-crippling polio is critical to its ultimate eradication, i have to disagree agree with the approach of health officials in Plateau state. The abuse of northerners in the name of medicine was a very real event and so far no measures have been put in place to prevent a repeat of 1996 meningitis trials.
i think health officials would further their cause by first acknowledging the legitimate fears of the Plateau state parents. i am very sure that the parents of Plateau state are looking out for the best interest of their families in light of a system that fails to protect them from internal and external medical/scientific exploitation. in acknowledging those fears, the government should then proceed to address them - possibly educating the public on how to avoid being "419'ed" by multi-national drug companies and the like. then, as was done in the past, work with religious and community figures in convincing parents of the need to vaccinate their children.
Of course I came up with this while eating dinner, so it is not the most well-thought out course of action. but i think simply punishing Plateau state parents because in their perceived best interests for their children refuse vaccines serves as a temporary bandage on an ever-festering wound.