Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Anti-fertility vaccine?

Since March 2014 a controversy has come up over the tetanus toxoid vaccine (provided by the UN/WHO) in Kenya - specifically targeting reproductive-aged females. Catholic bishops allege the tetanus vaccine may also laced with beta-HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), a hormone the body produces in pregnancy that is critical in maintaining pregnancy, especially early in pregnancy. The concern is that if true, this could cause a woman to develop antibodies against beta-HCG which could cause her to miscarry. Their worries about the possibility of an abortive vaccine being given without the knowledge let alone consent of the women is not unfounded given the history of drug and vaccine development, especially in the third world/developing countries (why are rich/middle class anglo women not ever recruited for these types of drug trials?!). It would seem the issue had been settled, but apparently it is still in flux.

What seems to be unacknowledged is that women (and their unborn babies) need far more than a vaccine to make childbearing safe! Better than a vaccine would be consistent access/provision of safe childbirth for all pregnant women in Kenya - attended by a midwife with at least basic training in a clean area (whether this is home or hospital) who uses sterile instruments to clamp and cut the umbilical cord, and access to a higher level of care if this become necessary (including access to transportation to a higher level of care). Women and babies everywhere deserve at least this much, though providing this kind of care is more difficult, more complex than giving a vaccine. More's the pity.

There's a real need for transparency - and not just in this situation. Let us hope that if there is a hidden agenda it is uncovered, or that if there is no scandal that is confirmed unequivocally.






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