Since people like the medical doctor David Livingstone lived within our midst, we have abandoned traditional methods of medicine and depended on western medicine for help. To date, Botswana can boast of one of the comparably best medical institutions in developing countries.
Over the recent past, western media has run stories of parents deciding not immunize their children. The central question from these parents asks why immunize your child when the disease is either not life threatening, like mumps, or that the disease no longer exists? These parents find themselves in the middle of scientific medical debate as to whether there is evidence that vaccines are good or are bad.
In addition to that, there are questions on whether these vaccinations have long term effects.
On one side of the argument, researchers and scientists say that vaccination against diseases, such as polio, measles and mumps, has eradicated the diseases in some parts of the world. The other school of thought argues that the diseases eradicated themselves due to general improvements in health, technology and the economy. The more extreme thought go as far as to ticket the process of vaccination as a conspiracy, as a big hoax, as terrorism to eliminate unwanted populations and as capitalism at its best.
According to a local paediatrician Dr Montshiwa, “We forget what some illnesses were like …the classical one being measles, people are so relaxed about measles because they don’t see it, it can be dangerous, it can kill children and it can make children disabled.”
At the doctor’s office, a chart from the company Aventis Pasleur shows a table of the vaccinations available for children from birth till the age of five. According to the chart, a baby receives a TB vaccine and an oral polio vaccine. On the face of that, one does get to wonder about the dosage that an underdeveloped immune system of a newborn can take. From the action group www.999innoculation.com, a Dr Boyd Haley claims that, “A single vaccine given to a six-pound newborn is the equivalent of giving a 180-pound adult 30 vaccinations on the same day.”
Dr Montshiwa on the other hand cautions our usage of the Internet for sourcing information.
“The information is not very professional,” he said. “There are some anti vaccination groups out there just like there are radicals everywhere. Vaccinations can very rarely be harmful. Yes, there might be a few that have side effects just like anything else, but the benefit far outweighs the risk.”