oa Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases - Measles in Africa : onwards and upwards : editorial

Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2312-0053



The fear inspired by the Ebola virus disease epidemic has gripped the world and held its gaze for almost a year. The ugly spectre of Ebola highlights the power of "contagion" to unite diverse peoples in pursuit of a common goal. The international collaborative effort to assist Ebola-infected countries has been forceful and inspiring, despite criticism of the time lag to gain traction. Global attention has been drawn to the race to develop an Ebola vaccine. It is imagined that demand for such a vaccine, once successfully developed, would be overwhelming in the affected countries, as presumably would demand for a future vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus in southern Africa. The iconic picture of queues around the block for a newly developed oral polio vaccine in 1960s USA reminds us of the intensity of the fear of polio disease at the time, a disease which seems very distant and remote today to most of the globe. The USA had just experienced mass epidemics of polio that paralysed tens of thousands of children annually. Successes driven by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have largely driven such fear of polio to the archives of the past. Why can we not maintain such a public passion for vaccines against measles, a very real, present and aggressive enemy, against which there has been a preventative vaccine since the 1970s?

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