Samson & Goliath

Nicola Adolphe, Arnica member and researcher, had 45 minutes with Stephen O’Brien, International Development Minister in December. She was presenting data from the The Spirit Level which looked at breast feeding, water & sanitation, and nutrition having far greater outcomes than vaccines in all countries.  Dr Jayne Donegan was her partner.  The fact that this meeting even took place is an amazing start, thanks to Nicola and her MP Oliver Letwin.

The GAVI message of 5 million lives saved was embedded into the political mantra and as Comic Relief is now supporting GAVI I guess we have our work cut out!

The main item to follow up is that Oliver Letwin MP said that the WHO should monitor and compare the vaccinated countries and the unvaccinated, with the variable of breastfeeding uptake.   Unicef states on their site that Exclusive Breastfeeding is the single most effective intervention for preventing child deaths under a year.  And I much rather see a breast feeding mother poster any day, compared to a starving child with a needle in their arm.

The girls asked that the outcomes should not just be linked to ‘numbers’ of vaccines given but on health outcomes overall.  There was some stuttering but yes health outcomes were of course important.  As with any pledge I wonder if the ‘agreement’ has a ‘change of mind’ clause, just in case the health outcomes were not improved.  But it seems that monitoring this money and the safety of delivering millions of doses of vaccines is not a concern to Mr O’Brien.

The Minister wanted to leave all policy to the WHO and responsibility to GAVI, but considering that many GAVI board members have financial interests in the manufacture of vaccines and the WHO has missed some vital safety issues in the past, we shouldn’t be complacent.  It was admitted in the meeting that there is no evidence that live vaccines are safe for Aids sufferers (indeed the manufacturers advise against giving live vaccines to HIV and Aids patients).   The WHO sanctions this practice based only upon one study looking at HIV sufferers, not Aids.  A UK government aide offered that there also was no evidence of harm…. mmm, we will send them the Merck manual which states

“Immunocompromised patients should not receive live-virus vaccines, which could provoke severe or fatal infections.”

Anyway, thank you to all who wrote letters to your MPs, we will keep you in touch with the next phase.

Water will still be hot on the agenda as water is officially THE most effective intervention in the world say the HPA, yet just a few percent of Aid goes to water programs and this has dropped over the years.  Something just does not add up.

p.s.  I don’t suppose these news items will ring any bells for any one…
New neurological ‘Nodding Syndrome‘ in S Sudan – the CDC are looking into malnutrition as a possible cause.  I guess they will not look at the Polio vaccination as a possible cause?  6 million children were vaccinated in 2010 after mass drive, many of whom had several doses.  Malnutrition will be indicated of course but not to investigate a live vaccine, when neurological ADRs are the most reported serious ADR with vaccines, is a glaring omission.

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