Measles cases in Europe are projected to reach the highest levels in the last twenty years, according to data from the World Health Organization, and the main reason is the anti-vaccination movement.
2018 closes with 60.000 cases of measles in Europe - at a time when the goal was to completely eradicate the disease from the European continent by 2020. This year, measles deaths in Europe reached 72, double the number of deaths last year. The cases were twice as many as last year (60.000 instead of 30.000).
In Greece, the number of measles cases in the last two years has reached 3.258, while there have been 4 deaths.
In our country, the increase in measles had more to do with the non-vaccination of the Roma, than with the anti-vaccination movement.
According to a Guardian article, it seems that a very crucial question is now being asked by the health authorities. How is it possible to challenge one of the most important tools of modern medicine.
The extent to which political leaders have influenced public opinion, not only with relevant statements but also with their overall attitude towards challenging science, is now more than obvious.
"It is unbelievable that we have children who die of measles. "We promised that in 2020 there would be no measles in Europe," he said Health Commissioner, heart surgeon Vitenis Andriukaitis. Andriukaitis accused far-right populist politicians of irresponsibility and wondered how they would tackle the issue in the countries where they take office, taking over public health responsibility.
Different vaccines (measles, influenza, cervical cancer) have different reactions in different countries.
The "rector" of the anti-vaccination movement among the leaders is undoubtedly US President Trump, who came to invite him to the official dance of the White House Andrew Wakefield, the gastroenterologist who has lost his prestige claiming that the MMR vaccine is associated with autism.
The new Italian government is also suspicious of vaccines, with fake news about vaccines being included in the "anti-systemic" menu of news exchanged on the social networks of the 5 Star Movement.
"When they took office and faced the second largest measles epidemic in Europe after Romania, the leaders of the 5 Star Movement seem to have lowered their tones, although it remains unclear exactly what their policy is," the Guardian reported.
However, in early December, Health Minister Julia Grillo, originating from the 5 Star Movement, fired all members of the country's most important committee of experts.
Vaccine skepticism is widespread in France, with far-right politics Marin Lepen to call for the abolition of compulsory vaccinations, arguing that there is insufficient evidence for their long-term effects and presenting vaccines as tools to increase the profitability of pharmaceutical companies.
The politicization of a public health issue is of great concern to experts. "We see how easily the issue of vaccinations is politicized and how religious or other organizations and individuals use it for economic and political gain, or to gain popularity," she said. Lisa Menning, working for the World Health Organization dealing with the issue of acceptance of vaccinations.
Other experts cite another aspect that makes the issue even more difficult to deal with scientifically: for some people, participation in the anti-vaccination movement has turned out to be a matter of identity.