Kuala Lumpur, 22 January 2019 – The Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy supports the Director General of Health’s call today for parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated against a whole range of vaccine-preventable diseases under the government’s programme.
“We are equally concerned about the increasingly aggressive online campaign mounted by anti-vaxxers in Malaysia spreading pseudo-scientific information, anti-vaccination messages, creating fear, advocating distrust of healthcare practitioners and disparaging the National Immunisation Programme,” stated Chief Executive Azrul Mohd Khalib.
Comparing annual data from 2013 where there were only 195 cases of measles to 1,934 in 2018, it is alarming to note that the Ministry of Health recorded an 892% increase in incidence within that five year period. Most of the adults and children involved were not vaccinated.
“It is tragic and heartbreaking to learn that there were 22 cases of pertussis (whopping cough) and even several cases of diphtheria in 2018, which resulted in the death of infants. These could have been prevented. Pertussis and diphtheria are vaccine-preventable diseases covered under the government’s immunisation programme. A newborn gets vaccinated for both diseases within the first six months of her life.”
“We are hearing of an increase in the number of parents choosing to place their kids in harm’s way by refusing vaccination and depriving them of immunity and protection, and making them vulnerable to possible infection from these diseases,” said Azrul.
“Each year, the government invests around RM 130 million for the National Immunisation Programme. It protects hundreds of thousands of newborns and infants. Yet, according to MOH statistics, the number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children have actually increased three-fold in recent years. 2016 saw almost 2000 cases of vaccine refusal. The actual figure is expected to be even higher as these figures are only from the public healthcare sector.”
“The campaign by anti-vaxxers promoting reliance on unproven traditional remedies, alternative treatments such as homeopathic remedies, pseudoscience, prayer and luck as bona fide vaccine alternatives, has resulted in a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as mumps, measles and diphtheria. This, as the MOH data has shown, has resulted in children losing their lives.”
“The science and evidence are clear. Vaccines prevent disease. Vaccination saves lives.”
Director General of Health’s statement
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