Poliomyelitis: Vaccination

Department for International Development written question – answered on 23rd January 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the effect of anti-vaccination fake news on polio (a) vaccination and (b) eradication efforts in (i) Pakistan and (ii) Afghanistan.

Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment her Department has made of the scale of anti-vaccination fake news in (a) Pakistan and (b) Afghanistan.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

We are concerned about anti vaccination messaging on social media, and the further impact this can have, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These “fake news” messages have the potential to spread more rapidly and widely than traditional routes.

Our emphasis has been on our own positive messaging, and supporting the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to understand anti-vaccine sentiment at a local level and the root causes of concerns. These organisations use a range of tools to monitor this – including population surveys, media and social media monitoring and through community dialogue. In both Pakistan and Afghanistan, health organisations have developed strategies to increase acceptance and demand for vaccination, which includes community engagement and trust-building, regular national assessment of vaccine concerns, and crisis response planning.

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