Media/Policy Watch

Media/Policy Watch

This watch section is intended to alert readers to substantive news, analysis and opinion from the general media and selected think tanks and similar organizations on vaccines, immunization, global public health and related themes. Media Watch is not intended to be exhaustive, but indicative of themes and issues CVEP is actively tracking. This section will grow from an initial base of newspapers, magazines and blog sources, and is segregated from Journal Watch above which scans the peer-reviewed journal ecology.

We acknowledge the Western/Northern bias in this initial selection of titles and invite suggestions for expanded coverage. We are conservative in our outlook in adding news sources which largely report on primary content we are already covering above. Many electronic media sources have tiered, fee-based subscription models for access. We will provide full-text where content is published without restriction, but most publications require registration and some subscription level.


Accessed 13 May 2017
Yet Another Measles Outbreak Traces Directly To Antivaccine Autism Panic
6 May 2017
Emily Willingham,
History repeats itself for the nth time in a decade as yet another community suffers through a measles outbreak that traces directly to antivaccine fervor and thoroughly debunked claims that vaccines cause autism. This time, the victims of this campaign of alternative facts are members of a Somali American community in Hennepin County, Minnesota. It’s the second measles outbreak in the last few years in this particularly vulnerable population.
This latest eruption of vaccine-preventable disease has left one in four infected children hospitalized. All but two of the 44 people diagnosed so far in the state’s largest measles outbreak in almost 30 years are unvaccinated. Clinicians warn that this event is still in the early stages.
These children are unvaccinated for the same reasons that children in a 2013 Wales outbreak were unvaccinated. And for the same reasons that an outbreak that began at Disneyland spread in 2015. And for the same reasons that a Texas megachurch experienced a measles outbreak in 2013. And for the same reasons as the 2016 outbreak that started in Arizona and spread. And for the same reasons as a 2008 outbreak that began in a pediatrician’s waiting room. And for the same reasons that Minnesota already experienced a measles outbreak back in 2011, in the same community…


The Guardian
Accessed 13 May 2017
We need a revolution in mindsets at the top of the World Health Organization
Mukesh Kapila| 9 May 2017
…The irony is that never has medical science been so productive and yet health inequalities so wide. That is why continuing to do more of the same is not an option. While extra funding is always welcome, much more necessary is a revolution in mind-sets and attitudes. This means organisational innovation to drive universal health coverage, foster collaboration, strengthen national health capacities, and forge partnerships that respect health as a fundamental human right. Hence, the centrality of WHO.
While WHO has many successes under its belt, it is heavily criticised for its costly, many-layered, self-serving bureaucracy unresponsive to real country needs. World-class health expertise has been fleeing the numerous cubicles of its huge Geneva office. Even its traditional authority to set the norms and standards for things that impact on human health is challenged by centres of excellence elsewhere. Its suspicion of civil society has alienated the groups most vital to service delivery. Its archaic governance cannot or will not hold the organisation accountable. Member states have financially starved WHO because they don’t trust it, or have bypassed it by creating other international organisations that do higher-quality health work.
However, WHO is still a quintessential public good whose reform has become an expansive industry…


Huffington Post
Accessed 13 May 2017
WHO Is The Driving Force To Reach All People With Vaccines
9 May 2017
By Brice Bicaba, Director of Disease Control for Burkina Faso
…More children are being immunized worldwide than ever before, with the highest level of routine coverage in history. In Burkina Faso, we are now able to reach 91 percent of all children with routine immunization. We were among the first countries in Africa to introduce a new vaccine for rotavirus, the cause of a deadly diarrhea, we eliminated polio and we are close to eliminating measles.
We appreciate the broader benefits that a well-performing immunization program brings to overall health care. When systems for vaccine procurement and delivery operate as a fully integrated component of a health system, they can drive the move towards universal health coverage.
There is more work to be done, especially in research and development. Many children are still dying from diseases because vaccines do not exist or they are too expensive.WHO remains committed to making new vaccines more accessible, faster. It is doing this by driving initiatives around an African vaccine regulatory forum and addressing the urgent need to expand clinical trial capacity and strengthen procedures to speed up licensing of new vaccines and technologies.
WHO continues to work through powerful public-private partnerships with international and national health leaders to make immunization more than the biggest success stories of modern medicine, but the greatest success story ever. With the success of the Meningitis Vaccine project, we’re well on our way.

New York Times
Accessed 13 May 2017
Ebola Outbreak Is Declared in Congo, With at Least 3 Dead
NAIROBI, Kenya — An Ebola outbreak has been declared in northern Democratic Republic of Congo and has killed at least three people in the past three weeks, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
The affected zone is in a forested area of Lower Uele Province, and it is close to the border with the Central African Republic, the W.H.O. said.
The outbreak is not linked to previous Ebola flare-ups in Congo, nor the one that tore through West Africa in 2014, killing more than 11,000 people, said Tarik Jasarevic, a W.H.O. spokesman. That outbreak was significant because it reached major cities and began in a part of Africa that had never seen Ebola before.
Mr. Jasarevic said that there had been a number of Ebola outbreaks in the Lower Uele region since 2000. Congo has had eight outbreaks of Ebola since 1976, according to the W.H.O.
May 12, 2017 – By KIMIKO de FREYTAS-TAMURA


Wall Street Journal,us&_homepage=/home/us
Accessed 13 May 2017
Venezuela’s Maduro Replaces Top Health Official After Data Released
By Kejal Vyas
May 12, 2017 12:40 am ET
Move comes days after publication of figures showing sharp declines in public health
Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro replaced his top health official just days after her ministry reported a severe worsening in public health in a rare release of government statistics.
After withholding data since 2015, the Health Ministry in Venezuela this week published an epidemiological bulletin showing a 30% increase in infant mortality…


Washington Post
Accessed 13 May 2017
The Post’s View
Another measles outbreak that didn’t have to happen
by Editorial Board May 9, 2017

WHAT CAN an advanced nation, with high-level medical care, say to the Somali American community of Minnesota, where an outbreak of measles, highly infectious and potentially deadly, is racing ahead because many people failed to get their children vaccinated, fearing a link to autism? This is what must be said: The fears are wrong, vaccinations save lives and this community must overcome distrust in order to overcome disease. There is no excuse for ignorance, not in Minnesota or anywhere else.

As Post reporter Lena H. Sun described in an article May 5, the Somali community in Minnesota is the largest in the United States. In 2008, parents raised concerns that their children were disproportionately receiving treatment for autism spectrum disorder. A University of Minnesota study in 2010 found that Somali children were about as likely as white children to be identified with autism, but Somali children with autism were more likely to have intellectual disabilities. Although extensive research has disproved the fears of a link between vaccination and autism, Ms. Sun reported that fear of vaccination became entrenched in the Somali community. Parents kept their children from inoculation with the highly effective measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. In 2004, 92 percent of Somali children in Minnesota were vaccinated, but by 2014 the rate plummeted to 42 percent, well below the 92 to 94 percent needed to protect a group.

Fears of vaccination deepened in Minnesota after Somali parents talked to Andrew Wakefield, the anti-vaccine activist who privately visited at least three times in 2010 and 2011. Mr. Wakefield’s 1998 study purporting to show a link between vaccines and autism was later identified as fraudulent. It was retracted by the medical journal that published it, and his medical license was revoked. Mr. Wakefield said he was invited to talk to the Somali community and is not at fault for what is happening. “I don’t feel responsible at all,” he told The Post.

The measles virus, which spreads through the air when a person coughs or sneezes, recently got a foothold among the unvaccinated children in Minnesota. According to the state health department, as of May 9 there were 50 cases, of whom 45 were unvaccinated. All but three are children. More cases are expected. Measles was once a scourge that infected 3 million to 4 million Americans annually, of whom 400 to 500 died. Because of the vaccine, the disease was almost completely eradicated in the United States by 2000. However, travelers have sometimes brought it from abroad; Somalia continues to have hundreds of suspected cases.

The vaccine is safe; two doses are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles. But the existence of groups of unvaccinated children, like those in Minnesota, are an outbreak waiting to happen. This is entirely unnecessary. The events in the Somali American community are not caused by a lack of medical technology or know-how, but rather by the rise of ignorance and fear. They provide a lesson to be spread far and wide: Do not give in to mindless irrationality about vaccines. They can save lives.