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This morning I opened Daily Kos on my browser and scanned for interesting diaries to read as I sipped my coffee.  One that addressed the folly of a megachurch hit with a run of measles cases after having campaigned against vaccinations seemed worth a read, and it was.  [Find it here....]  But then I noticed something interesting in the comments.  Empower Ink introduced a parallel discussion concerning recollections of Kossacks who had received polio vaccinations back in the mid-fifties and such.  Fascinating!  At least for me, as I am a Rotarian.  What's the connection, and why might this lead to an "uplifting" further story?  Please join me below the fold....

Recently I came across a comment that said that DK had become too weighted with negative stories, or something to that effect.  I'm fairly new as a diarist, so I can't refer back to earlier experiences here.  But I'll accept the insight, as it has set me to thinking about how we as Progressives do have an obligation to picture a better future if we are to be persuasive with other Americans.

I thought of that as I was reading about people who had received polio vaccine "back in the day."  And I decided I should share the news that we may well witness the demise of polio -- worldwide -- within a very few years.  Rotary International began just such a campaign back in the 1980s, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has added Big Bucks to what Rotarians themselves have been contributing.  

Now, money plus commitment from America and other Western nations is great, but the really "uplifting" part for me is to see how people in the so-called Third World can get behind such an idea.  With their lives, if necessary, to save others from a lifetime disability or a gruesome death.

And so I'll reprint (with permission of my editor) a piece I inserted not long ago in my local Rotary club's newsletter.  You'll see what I mean....

The Polio Fight in Pakistan.   The New York Times recently ran a story about what Rotary is doing to fight polio in this most difficult country.  Rotarians on the Internet (ROTI) carried much of the story.  As it states, our polio eradication campaign began in 1988 and Pakistan, which has had Rotary chapters since 1927, now constitutes the Front Lines of the campaign.

The article may have been prompted by the news that one brave Pakistani, who oversaw a Rotary polio clinic in his Karachi school, was killed by gunmen in May.  This man had done much to anger the Taliban for his refusal to limit the education at his school to Koran study.  Not only did it provide a liberal arts education, but he had admitted girls besides.

His school was located in an industrial part of Karachi.  The neighborhood was known for its gangs and for the presence of the Taliban.  A rumor was begun that said this man was Jewish, and he was made the subject of a fatwa.  And, as reported, eventually he was killed despite best local efforts to protect him.  As The New York Times observed, and as ROTI members repeated, “ in places that terrify government officials.”

But what seems significant is that this man’s clinic is not closing.  The fight is now led by  a Rotary-affiliated textile executive.  He and his associates have compensated the families of rural vaccinators who have died at the hands of the Taliban.  The relatives of the slain are then persuaded to appear at news conferences at which they then urge others to carry on the work of vaccination.

And it appears to be having some positive results.  Only, more creative ways now have to be used to reach the children.  One of these is called “transit point vaccination.”  To quote from the story (carried by ROTI):

“At a tollbooth on the highway into Karachi, Ghulam Jilani’s team takes advantage of an army checkpoint.  As soldiers stop each bus to search for guns, Rotary vaccinators hop aboard.  On a typical day, they reach 800 children.  Yes, Mr. Jilani said, the soldiers’ presence may intimidate some resistant families into complying.  Also, he added brightly: ‘We scare them a little.  We say, “You are entering a city with the disease.  Don’t you want your children safe?” ’  About 90 percent comply, he said, sometimes after a public argument between a father who believes the rumors and a mother, outside their home and at times backed by other women on the bus, insisting the children be protected.”

The article continues by noting that military checkpoints near the Afghan frontier areas controlled by the Taliban provide similar cover for the vaccination teams.  So, while the vaccinators have been kept from their work to a degree -- given that it would not be safe for them to enter villages directly -- they are still able to reach the population by taking advantage of local travel patterns and the regulation of traffic by the military.

Even more dangerous is the willingness of some women to smuggle the vaccine (packed on ice, no less!) into their villages for distribution to trusted neighbors.  This is arranged by nurses at hospitals guarded by the military.

All of this causes me to reflect on the different gender roles in such a society.  While it is the men on both sides who bear arms and lead the respective opposing forces, the “foot soldiers” in this war against polio are often the unarmed women:  vaccinators, nurses, and mothers who are willing to risk their lives to save children from the disease.  Just consider the women on that bus (mentioned in the quote), who would dare to speak publically against the intimidation of the Taliban....

Want to find out more?  Here's the End Polio Now site -- you might want to find the Blog within -- and here's the "Strategy Overview" on polio by the Gates Foundation....  If you were feeling that things today were "hopeless," I'll trust that this will have given you a measure of hopefulness!

Originally posted to Zwenkau on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What has prevented... (19+ / 0-)

    communicable disease on a large scale in the US is that almost all people (parents) have been vaccinated against most diseases.  With a high enough % of the population immunized those not vaccinated are generally protected, unless you are in a group of non-immune people in close association with an imported infected individual.  Ever increasing world travel only amplifies the risk
    The incident may cause some of the anti-vac people to rethink their decision about their children's health
    Unfortunately,  many 2nd  and 3rd world nations have not achieved the level of the immunized that will prevent epidemic spread.  
    The people that have dedicated the lives to achieve disease prevention in all countries will save the lives of thousands - of mostly children.  

    "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them. Isaac Asimov [-8.25 / -5.64]

    by carver on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:20:21 PM PDT

    •  Herd immunity (8+ / 0-)
      With a high enough % of the population immunized those not vaccinated are generally protected,
      This phenomenon is known as "herd immunity".  The disease dies out in a given population because there are not enough unvaccinated hosts to support its continued propagation. A limited proportion of unvaccinated individuals-- usually estimated at about 10% to 15% of the population-- will have good odds of avoiding the disease if everyone else is vaccinated.

      It is important to note that some individuals have no access to or cannot tolerate vaccination: these are newborns, elders, those who are too sick, too allergic, too ignorant, too out of touch, too shattered to take proper care of themselves, etc. The share of the population that can go unvaccinated needs to be reserved for these individuals.

      When otherwise healthy and capable people choose to avoid vaccination, they put themselves and everyone else at risk.

      Compare willful vaccination avoidance to tax cheats. If "just a few"people do it, it possibly benefits them without doing measurable harm to the group. But a threshold is reached fairly quickly, beyond which systems that depend on cooperation of most individuals can no longer deliver the crucial benefits on which we all depend.

      •  Color me jaded, but I am definitely (0+ / 0-)

        questioning the idea of the healthiness, both psychological and physiological, of trying to save every last living creature. It seems pretty clear that there is such a thing as selective advantage. Dilute that down to an unknowable degree and maybe while we are eradicating polio, malaria and starvation we are simultaneously creating problems like increasing incidences of diabetes, obesity and corruption. There is no hard science that can give us clear answers on these kinds of things, and so we must take them, just as we must religion, on faith.

        Here's to trying to figure it all out!

        "Have a good time... all the time." -Viv Savage

        by The House on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 07:33:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Darwinism at its worst (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DBunn, tikkun, RiveroftheWest

          No, neither natural resistance to Polio and Measels and nor sheer dumb luck to not be exposed to them does protect you from diabetes, obesity, and moral decay.

          So your "better let them die, lest they might corrupt the racial fitness of mankind" argument is moot.

          •  "Racial" fitness?? First off, who said anything (0+ / 0-)

            about race? Second, my comment was not meant to be an argument, just an observation. And finally, while I understand that it could be difficult for many people to be able to consider such an idea dispassionately, it seems you leapt from not really understanding what the idea means, to believing that you not only do understand what it means, but that you also know my heart, which you clearly do not, as well as all the implications of the idea. I believe that this type of reactionary-ism is typically a result of an unwillingness or inability to put forth any effort at thought or discussion, and is a clear example of hubris it seems. Not that I care to pick a fight though.

            "Have a good time... all the time." -Viv Savage

            by The House on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:45:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Don't cheer for something you wouldn't choose for (0+ / 0-)


              I can't pretend to understand why you think there's some benefit, evolutionary or otherwise, to letting some people die because of some notion (which you seem to think we should take "on faith") that leads to selective advantage.

              If there is a child suffering, we should cure it, or prevent the suffering in the first place. There's no hard-headed realism that has as one of its tenants that children must suffer for the greater good. That's self-serving nonsense, not dispassionate rational discourse.

              If there's a solution to overpopulation, obesity, diabetes, and "corruption" (?? the political, not physical, malady?) then it should be humane enough that you wouldn't mind undergoing it yourself. To do otherwise, to root for the salvation of humanity on the backs of the powerless or less fortunate than you, is cowardice and hypocrisy.

              Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~John Watson

              by FriendlyNeighbor on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:45:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  *tenets n/t (0+ / 0-)

                Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~John Watson

                by FriendlyNeighbor on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:46:44 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  If I should ever have the misfortune of being (0+ / 0-)

                found in a position of not being able to care for myself due to extreme disability, say as a result of accident or disease, then I would and do wish for myself that I not be kept alive by any artificial means.

                If I had been born with a condition that could only guarantee that I would spend all the time in my life in a state of pain and total dependency, I would want for myself to be euthanized in the quickest, least painful way possible. And if my own child were to be born with such a condition, then if in my judgment it would be most humane to euthanize the child, then I would want to be able to have that weighty decision be made by my spouse and me, not "society."

                And when you start throwing around insulting pejoratives, "Friendly Neighbor," it only reinforces my notion that the modern morality you hold to and portray as being the most humane, and of a quality that is unarguably the most morally superior, is in fact horribly deficient in so many cases. This is not about someone who is in need of being helped up after a fall. And it would be wrong to misconstrue the point that way.

                There would be, of course, much, much more to this discussion. However, the two comments in reply to my original post confirm my thought that if it were possible to continue, that it would only happen with a lot of highly judgmental and accusatory responses... and some more name-calling too.

                "Have a good time... all the time." -Viv Savage

                by The House on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 03:12:23 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  We started out talking about vaccines (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  The House

                  Now we're talking about euthanasia. They seem to be two different issues to me.

                  Let's just agree that I didn't/don't understand the point you were/are making and leave it at that.

                  Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~John Watson

                  by FriendlyNeighbor on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:51:40 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  same thing happening in Nigeria (14+ / 0-)

    Nigeria is split north-south between Muslim and Christian/animist (and a bunch of other things).  In the north, Islamists are killing polio vaccine workers.  They believe that the polio vaccine is a Western/Christian plot to sterilize virtuous Muslim women and give the men AIDS.  Yes, you read that right.

    War Nerd: changed the way I think. Free stuff here & here

    by Visceral on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 01:23:22 PM PDT

  •  Why is it so often the men (9+ / 0-)

    Where ideology trumps reality? Women want their children to live, and can see the reasoning behind vaccinations, likely from other women who have seen the results.

    From the story, men tend to be more into conspiracies and rumor, ignoring the facts right in front of them.

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:09:55 PM PDT

    •  Way off subject, but.... (8+ / 0-)

      one interesting subject for a diary to me would be a strong feminist leaning piece about how the "male-dominated" leadership in world history has a habit of being bar fight oriented....not so much about protecting the nest so much.  It's probably too heated a subject matter though.

      There's room at the top, they're telling you still, but first you must learn how to smile as you kill. -J Lennon

      by noelcor on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:48:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Whereas over here women are leaders in antivac (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chloris creator

      movements. Most or all are mothers.

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 07:04:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But this is about a man that is leading it in a religious group.

        Which has the largest numbers of people going along with anti-vax, the religious groups headed by men, or the groups run by women?

        I wouldn't know how to start finding that out, but would sincerely like to know.

        Women create the entire labor force.
        Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:49:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well, there was that time that the CIA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alain2112, kurt

    faked a Hep B vaccine campaign in Pakistan in order to gather genetic data during the hunt for bin Laden. That may sow a few seeds of suspicion in peoples' minds.

    •  Suspicion in Pakistan (5+ / 0-)

      I know that this is the reason why the vaccine campaign is suspect.  However, the 1st Test in the Rotarian 4-Way Test is to ask "Is it the truth?"  And what I've read (if memory serves) is that there was a doctor living nearby bin Laden's hideaway who was assisting the Americans in seeking clues to his whereabouts.  And who maybe provided a key bit of evidence.  But I've not read that this doctor had anything to do with the polio eradication campaign.

      You may well have seen something on this that I did not, as it's not a topic I've closely followed.  Can anyone cite a source on this, one way or the other?  We do know that the CIA was behind the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Iran, back in 1953, so it's beyond question that it has a reputation in the region.

      "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

      by Zwenkau on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:57:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The vaccines weren't fake (6+ / 0-)

      The only thing "fake" about it was that they did it in bin Laden's neighborhood specifically to confirm whether the mass murderer was staying in that house.  Oh, the horror!

      This courageous doctor was abducted from his home and "disappeared" for a year, during which time he was tortured.  He was then sentenced to 33 years in prison by the petty, vindictive Pakistani government.

      Whoever blew his cover should be ashamed.

      The only mistake I see is they should have used a fake doctor who could have been air-lifted out of there.  

  •  Interesting that polio has not been completely (0+ / 0-)

    eradicated. Many predicted that it would happen in the same way that smallpox has disappeared. But it seems to keep arising in the human population when vaccination stops. Is it still vaccinated in the US? It says something about giving the vaccine at two months, but I don't know if that is routine in the US.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:21:52 PM PDT

  •  I found "Our World" episodes on some beta tapes... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, Zwenkau, the fan man, Naniboujou

    and one episode about the events in 1952 dealt with polio and how scary it was being a young person during polio season (spring is when it stuck most often and the playgrounds were silent) and Helen Hayes was interview talking about how her daughter died of this disease and you could just see the pain in her eyes.

  •  Though to be fair, the decision to vaccinate in (0+ / 0-)

    those countries is not as simple as it is in a first world country like the US or Europe.  Remember, in some places you have a very good chance of getting Hepatitis or even HIV from getting vaccinated because they simply can't afford to not reuse each needle dozens of times.

    You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

    by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:59:16 PM PDT

  •  religion and immunization (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, smileycreek, ER Doc, varro

    We keep hoping that science and fact and statistics will trump foolish ignorance, but it just isn't happening. I suppose few Americans really remember how things were before immunization became so ubiquitous. My mother nearly died of pertussis "whooping cough" around 1920. I got mumps, measles, chicken pox, and all kinds of flu. The whole family next, dad, brother and friends, were totally paralyzed by polio, just a year before the first Salk vaccine came out.

    Now, the hyperchurch celebrants in benighted Texas are struck by measles specifically because of their absurd ideology eschewing immunization. The person who brought it into their community could just as easily have given them polio, still endemic in several third world regions which proselytizers are wont to visit. And likewise there are ignorant religionists in these polio pockets who fight against immunization.

    Comments like this do not often appear in the mainstream media so I am preaching to the choir. I suppose in our culture of soundbites and restricted vocabulary and political correctness it is just too late. I do not attack faith, as I do believe in something we can call God, but religion just annoys me.

    •  Superstition and faulty logic by educated people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, varro

      is just as potent and dangerous. We are pattern seeking creatures.

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 07:08:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Even worse is the hysteria around the HPV vaccine. (7+ / 0-)

      Here we have a vaccine that can actually prevent cancer-- how many times do you get to do that?

      I personally know how brutal the treatment for HPV+ throat cancer is and talk to everyone I can about getting their kids vaccinated against it, both boys and girls, and the religious objections make me crazy. No, it does not encourage your child to run out and have promiscuous sex fergawdssake.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Oh, I used to be disgusted
      Now I try to be amused
      ~~ Elvis Costello

      by smileycreek on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 09:14:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Vaccinating boys for HPV (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        smileycreek, tikkun, RiveroftheWest

        I was wondering when anyone (else) was going to say something about vaccinating boys as well as girls for HPV. Clearly it is beneficial for both. If you hadn't said something here, I was probably going to.

        I also haven't heard whether it is ever feasible to check on whether adults have been exposed and to give them the vaccine if they have not been. My understanding is that many but not all adults have already been exposed. But if there are some who haven't been, shouldn't they be able to have their potential cancer risk reduced too?

        Came for the politics, stayed for the pooties.

        by DreamyAJ on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:27:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My husband (paradise50) is a year out (4+ / 0-)

          from completing HPV throat cancer treatment.

          Fortunately, it is highly treatable. He has a minuscule chance of recurrence. But the treatment was sheer hell.

          The vaccine works best in a "naive population," that is, before any sexual activity (including possibly even kissing) since HPV is so widespread in the general population. Once someone has been exposed to HPV and has antibodies the vaccine may not be much help. The vast majority of people clear the virus from their system in a year or two.

          There is no equivalent of a pap smear for women to test for throat cancer in men. As yet there is no early detection. You have to wait for symptoms to show up.

          This is why the vaccine in pre-adolescent children is so important. p50 wouldn't wish what he went through on his worst enemy.

          Oh, I used to be disgusted
          Now I try to be amused
          ~~ Elvis Costello

          by smileycreek on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:41:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Single-payer province pays for boys' HPV vaccine (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tikkun, RiveroftheWest, smileycreek

          "P.E.I. is expanding its human papilloma virus vaccination program to include grade six boys. Girls have been receiving the HPV vaccine since 2007."

      •  oh yeah... (7+ / 0-)

        Before I moved over into IT I was a molecular geneticist, actually worked on picornaviruses including the attenuated polio vaccine strains, and so I do understand just a little about how viruses are put together and vaccine production. I recently had to deal with a shocking level of ignorance regarding the HPV vaccine on another site I frequent.

        There were a bunch of women there ranting about "no way you should give this to your kids, I caught the damn thing from the vaccine" and that caught my attention because as far as I knew it wasnt a live vaccine - so I responded and they were all over me calling me fifty different kinds of liar because they claimed to have caught the virus before they were sexually active so it must have come from the vaccine. I dont usually engage in internet slugfests like that one, but it touched an area of prefessional competence and my pride in the work I had done in that stage of my life so I couldnt resist making a single response. For anyone else dealing with that particular opinion, here is a canned version - feel free to use it yourself at need...

        To all those claiming to have caught HPV from the vaccine, let me explain why this is not possible. The HPV vaccine contains only one of the multiple proteins that make up the shell of the HPV virus and no genetic material whatsoever. Antibodies to that one protein are sufficient to prevent infection by a given strain of HPV. The vaccine contains this protein from 4 strains of HPV. Without the genetic material there is no blueprint for new viruses, without the other proteins being present and properly assembled to encase the genetic material there is no way for that genetic material to make it into a cell to infect it. With no complete viral particles and not even a complete set of pieces present in the vaccine it is impossible - not unlikely, genuinely impossible - for the HPV vaccine to infect anyone.

        In short, methinks the lady doth protest too much

        •  Thank you for that. (4+ / 0-)

          I was counseling a woman on the phone whose husband was going through HPV throat cancer treatment. We talked for over an hour about managing the feeding tube and other issues and had a great rapport going. When I mentioned encouraging the HPV vaccine in children she suddenly and completely lost her shit, claiming that she had "investigated both sides of the issue thoroughly" and that "hundreds of young women have died from that vaccine!"

          It was either let the conversation devolve into arguing over the vaccine or return to talking about how she could help her husband through the treatment, and I chose the latter, but I was shocked.

          It would have been like arguing with someone over the "two sides" of the gravity issue. And those hundreds of deaths.....? Where the eff did that claim come from?

          Oh, I used to be disgusted
          Now I try to be amused
          ~~ Elvis Costello

          by smileycreek on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:34:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Unfortunately, ignorance of science... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, tikkun, RiveroftheWest not confined to the religious right.

      Plenty of left-sympathizing people are seduced by charlatans like Dr. Joseph Mercola and Jenny McCarthy into not vaccinating their children; the schools with the highest rates of unvaccinated children include conservative religious schools and lefty "alternative" schools.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 08:23:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I too am old enough to remember (0+ / 0-)

      having mumps.  And a child in my kindergarten class contracted polio.  So, of course, I am all in favor of protecting children against these diseases and my own children were vaccinated.  However, I also remember the Swine Flu debacle and I have to say it made me a bit more cautious about immunizations.  Any medicine can have side effects.  I'm not sure I would one of the first in line when a new vaccine was introduced.  

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