Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and philanthropist Bill Gates take part in a discussion in Ottawa about improving infant and maternal health in poor countries.
Photo Credit: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Prime minister chides anti-vaxxers

Prime Minister Stephen Harper criticized Canadians who refuse to vaccinate their children as he announced more money for inoculation programs in poor countries. Since some cases of measles recently cropped up in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, there has been debate about whether inoculations should be obligatory in Canada.

Efforts to vaccinate babies and moms in poor countries

Appearing with U.S. billionaire Bill Gates in Ottawa, Harper pledged an additional $20-million for polio vaccines and up to $2.5-million for tetanus shots for mothers and babies. This was part of an on-going effort on the part of both men to prioritize child and maternal health in the developing world.

Some Canadian parents refuse to vaccinate their children for religious reasons, others based on the unfounded belief that they may be harmful. They are nicknamed anti-vaxxers. © CBC

‘A responsibility to vaccinate’

Saying his wife would “kill him” if he did not raise the issue, Harper told foreign aid groups attending the event “We in the educated, advanced, medically advanced, sophisticated part of the world, we have a responsibility when it comes to this, not just a responsibility to vaccinate our children which I think every parent has a responsibility to do, and not just a responsibility to encourage that widespread vaccination so we’re not putting other kids at risk. “But we have a responsibility to set an example, for God’s sake.We know these medical interventions work and as an advanced, educated society it is completely irresponsible of people in thisn society to communicate anything other than that anywhere else in the world.”

‘Get the facts,’ says prime minister

Some Canadian parents still believe inaccurate reports of health risks associated with vaccinations. For them, Harper advised: “Get the facts from the medical and scientific community and if you’re not a doctor or a scientist yourself, listen to the people who are. It’s that simple.”

Categories: Health, International, Society

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