News has come down that WHO is backing a rotavirus vaccine to be given as a regular vaccination to children. This is good news. A great many people die from this virus each year; apparently 85% of the half a million being in Africa and Asia.
Obviously, I’m in favor of such a vaccine. I just happen to be repulsed by the fact that on BBC News, they feature the article not only in their Health section (where it rightly belongs as it’s a worldwide problem), but also in the Africa section and just the Africa section. Why? Why is it always Africa? And why when it is always Africa there has to be the requisite picture of poor African children to go along with the article. I assume that there must be endless libraries of these shots and they cost next to nothing to use.
At least if this had been in the Asia section as well, it would have been a bit less offensive. But as it is, having it be only Africa, it does nothing but perpetuate the stereotypes of Africa being the continent that is swimming in disease. I mean, the article even states that there are 130,000 cases in the UK each year. That’s not a meaningless figure. That means that this problem is definitely an issue in the UK (as well as probably the rest of Europe and the US), but still it’s Africa that is seen as the hot spot of disease. Big media needs to take note of what they’re doing and try and get back in to just telling the facts in a balanced manner. Of course, my hopes in this are slim. Long live the blog.
Good vaccination, but bad media coverage