In an increasingly polarised world, the battlelines are all too obvious — and hardening. The rise of Trump, Orban, Putin, Ergodan and the Brexiteers’ coup bewilders those who cling to the belief that post-WWII liberal values still have transformative, positive possibilities. Climate collapse has set the future against the past — and today — in an almost unprecedented way. Science struggles to overcome emotion.
These are the grand headings but there are myriad subplots. Gun control in America is one. In Ireland, the wealth-cornering move from homeownership to lifelong tenancy is another. Vaccination is another.
Medicine and the great majority accept the idea yet a minority, spurred on by online echo chambers, rejects any idea that social responsibility includes an obligation to use vaccination programmes.
It is certain that the more than 2,700 people, mostly children, who died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year because they contacted measles would have happily embraced the idea of vaccination. Médecins Sans Frontières reports that since January, more than 145,000 people have been infected with measles, and 2,758 have died.
The health agency warns that “In Congo, the vaccination coverage lately is very low, and that’s the main reason why it’s spread so much”. If those figures do not move anti-vaccination campaigners then a more startling expression of the crisis may — measles killed more people in the DRC this year than ebola.