We also take our health for granted. Sure, we get sick and injured now and then, but we have ready access to health care (at least, those of us who can afford private insurance or who live in countries with universal care). And above all, many take for granted the fact that we no longer need to worry about many diseases, like polio, tetanus or measles.
Not everyone in the world is so, lucky, however. For instance, let's take a look at Pakistan. Pakistan has seen quite a number of problems related to health care and disease.
Problems with Polio
Much of this violence stems from anti-U.S. sentiments and conspiracy theories, with suspicion that the Pakistan Taliban is behind the attacks. But why target vaccinators? Long-standing issues with vaccine administration, including corruption and delivery into hazardous regions, were made just a bit worse in 2011 when the CIA faked a vaccination drive in Abbottabad in order to get DNA to verify that members of Osama bin Laden's family were in a particular house. Since then, those giving polio vaccines have been suspected of being spies for the U.S. or of trying to sterilize Muslims, and that has been used as a justification for banning vaccination drives and even resorting to violence like the murders mentioned above.
These attacks, along with politically or religiously motivated anti-vaccinationism, are a major setback to the global polio eradication program. Polio, a viral disease that causes paralysis, muscle weakness and even death, is now endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan (17 cases in 2012), Nigeria (88 cases) and Pakistan (35 cases).
In response to the current epidemic, the WHO has launched an immunization campaign targeting about 2.9 million children. If successful, the effort may curb the rampant spread of measles. It is a vital effort, particularly considering Pakistan had a meager 67% uptake rate for measles immunization in 2007 and has continued to have low coverage.
Taking It All for Granted
Like I said, it's easy for us to take for granted that which is readily available to us. In the case of communicable diseases, we easily forget just what they can do. Some people even go to such lengths as writing children's books to promote anti-vaccine misinformation, coloring diseases like measles as being just fine and dandy:
|Please, mummy, can't I have SSPE?|
It's time we stop taking our good fortune and well-being for granted, like Ms. Messenger and others do. Take a look at the real world around us. Learn what nature is really like. And then help keep our communities safe from these diseases. Start by getting yourself and your family vaccinated, and, if it is within your means, support organizations that protect the health of others around the world.