Age Editorial

We seem to be riding a wave of mainstream support for a Skeptical / rational view of health policy. The following is an editorial from The Age Newspaper of 22/12/15. The highlights are entirely down to us!

Well done, THE AGE !

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You cannot argue against the science

The science is clear. It is beyond argument. It is accepted. For hepatitis C sufferers, there is no dispute, only relief. The federal government announced yesterday that drugs to combat the disease will be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The drugs can cost a patient $100,000 but, for Australia’s 230,000 sufferers, they will now be accessible for the PBS co-payment cost of $37.70, or $6.10 for concession.

According to Health Minister Sussan Ley, 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. She hopes that the drugs will not only halt the spread of Hep C, an infectious virus that attacks the liver, but in the long term eradicate it.

It is a welcome, and enlightened, move to alleviate suffering.

And then we move, in a historical paradox, from the enlightenment to the dark ages. The science is still clear. It is still beyond argument. It cannot be repudiated. And yet it is. The subject, of course, is the vaccination of children.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how removed from reality, so long as that opinion does not harm, or cause a reaction that leads to others being harmed. This is not the case with those mis­guided people who form a vocal minority in their belief that not vaccinating their child is in the best interests of that child.

This is false. As the Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said when launching a mobile app that alerts parents when the time is right to vaccinate: “The science is crystal clear.”

She added:

“Refusing to vaccinate your child not only endangers their health, but the health of every other child in our community.”

The minister’s comments came amid reports that immunisation posters in hospitals had been ripped down. Those who had done so, she said, were “not motivated by science, but the quackery of the anti-vax movement”.

Pseudoscience has never advanced anyone’s health.

There can be no more effective example of this quackery than the trend for parents to hold chicken-pox parties. Anti-vaccination advocates see themselves as “conscientious objectors”. This is fatuous at best. This is not a morality play. It is not a collision of good and evil. It is simply ignorance, com­bined with a wilful deafness and blindness, dressed up as alternative medicine. It is pseudoscience. And pseudoscience has never advanced or safeguarded anyone’s health.

As the federal Department of Health says: “If enough people in the community are immunised, the infection can no longer be spread from person to person and the dis­ease can die out altogether.” Who could possibly, under any condi­tions, argue against this? This level of protection is known as the “herd immunity”, and is measured as a vaccination rate in the community of 95 per cent. Victoria stands at 93.2 per cent, which is slightly above the national average of 92.6 per cent.

A stark illustration of not being vaccinated comes in a report by the National Health Performance Authority, which found there were 30,000 nationwide last year who were treated in hospital for conditions that could have been prevented if they had had vaccinations.

From January, the government’s “no jab, no play” legislation comes into force. Families will not receive subsidised child care if their child has not been vaccinated.

Despite some health experts saying the new laws will only penalise low-income families and not increase vaccination rates, it sends a clear signal that state intervention in personal lives is at times necessary and justifiable.

The science is clear. It is beyond argument. It is accepted. For hepatitis C sufferers, there is no dispute, only relief. The federal government announced yesterday that drugs to combat the disease will be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The drugs can cost a patient $100,000 but, for Australia’s 230,000 sufferers, they will now be accessible for the PBS co-payment cost of $37.70, or $6.10 for concession.

According to Health Minister Sussan Ley, 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. She hopes that the drugs will not only halt the spread of Hep C, an infectious virus that attacks the liver, but in the long term eradicate it.

It is a welcome, and enlightened, move to alleviate suffering.

And then we move, in a historical paradox, from the enlightenment to the dark ages. The science is still clear. It is still beyond argument. It cannot be repudiated. And yet it is. The subject, of course, is the vaccination of children.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how removed from reality, so long as that opinion does not harm, or cause a reaction that leads to others being harmed. This is not the case with those mis­guided people who form a vocal minority in their belief that not vaccinating their child is in the best interests of that child.

This is false. As the Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said when launching a mobile app that alerts parents when the time is right to vaccinate: “The science is crystal clear.”

She added: “Refusing to vaccinate your child not only endangers their health, but the health of every other child in our community.”

The minister’s comments came amid reports that immunisation posters in hospitals had been ripped down. Those who had done so, she said, were “not motivated by science, but the quackery of the anti-vax movement”.

Pseudoscience has never advanced anyone’s health.

There can be no more effective example of this quackery than the trend for parents to hold chicken-pox parties. Anti-vaccination advocates see themselves as “conscientious objectors”. This is fatuous at best. This is not a morality play. It is not a collision of good and evil. It is simply ignorance, com­bined with a wilful deafness and blindness, dressed up as alternative medicine. It is pseudoscience. And pseudoscience has never advanced or safeguarded anyone’s health.

As the federal Department of Health says: “If enough people in the community are immunised, the infection can no longer be spread from person to person and the dis­ease can die out altogether.” Who could possibly, under any condi­tions, argue against this? This level of protection is known as the “herd immunity”, and is measured as a vaccination rate in the community of 95 per cent. Victoria stands at 93.2 per cent, which is slightly above the national average of 92.6 per cent.

A stark illustration of not being vaccinated comes in a report by the National Health Performance Authority, which found there were 30,000 nationwide last year who were treated in hospital for conditions that could have been prevented if they had had vaccinations.

From January, the government’s “no jab, no play” legislation comes into force. Families will not receive subsidised child care if their child has not been vaccinated.

Despite some health experts saying the new laws will only penalise low-income families and not increase vaccination rates, it sends a clear signal that state intervention in personal lives is at times necessary and justifiable.

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