October 6, 2022

Bioethicist denounces silence on Taliban polio vaccine ban

Bioethicist Art Caplan has denounced international silence after a powerful Taliban leader in northern Pakistan banned the vaccination of 161,000 children against polio.

Bioethicist Art Caplan has denounced international silence after a powerful Taliban leader in northern Pakistan banned the vaccination of 161,000 children against polio. The ban was made in retaliation for frequent US drone attacks. Hafiz Gul Bahadur has said that unless the US stops, he won’t let doctors and public health officials distribute free oral polio vaccine to children in North Waziristan, a tribal area on the Afghanistan border. His threat comes at a time of great progress in the worldwide eradication of polio. Caplan says:

“By deciding to hide behind babies as a way to fight drones, Bahadur has chosen a strategy that is cruel, immoral and highly unlikely to have any effect on the use of drones. His action ought to bring loud moral condemnation upon him from all quarters of the globe. So, where are (sic) world’s major religious and political voices united in loud condemnation of the crass act of targeting the helpless children of Pakistan and Afghanistan with polio?”

Caplan points out: “There are plenty of legal, diplomatic and political forums to debate the morality of drone warfare. The ban on the polio vaccine is not needed to appeal to them.” He adds, The world must make it very clear to Bahadur, and any other leaders tempted to follow his lead, that it will not accept turning back the campaign to eradicate polio, with the certain result of killing and disabling children.” ~ MSNBC, Jun 20

Jared Yee
Creative commons
polio
politics and bioethics