Understanding Political Context Around Islamist Opposition To Polio Vaccination Programs Essential To Public Health Policy, Eradicating Disease

Project Syndicate: Militant Islamism and Vaccine Skepticism
Jonathan Kennedy and Domna Michailidou, both teaching fellows at the University College London’s School of Public Policy

“…What is standing in the way of the [polio] virus’s eradication is not medical or technical constraints, but political resistance to the vaccination effort. … If the virus is to be defeated, we will have to move beyond caricatures of Islamists as violent zealots opposed to Western science and look closely at the specific political contexts in which the eradication effort has so far been unsuccessful. … The stance Islamist insurgents take toward polio vaccination campaigns has less to do with anti-Western zealotry than with the specific dynamics of the conflict in which they are involved. This has important implications for public health policy. Only by understanding the political context in which vaccination programs operate will those committed to eradicating polio succeed” (10/22).