Public Health Initiative in Local Context

This week’s reading, “Sterilizing Vaccines or the Politics of the Womb: Retrospective Study of a Rumor in Cameroon” discusses the historical, political, national, and regional contexts that shaped public opinion of the public health initiative vaccination campaign and lead to the miscommunication and spread of rumors about the effects of the vaccinations. This vaccination campaign was conceived without regard for the cultural context within Cameroon.  At the time of the vaccination campaign, a separate government endorsed campaign promoting family planning was concurrently in effect. The association of these two separate campaigns led to a growing suspicion and mistrust of the vaccinations. Although public health officials understood the agenda of the campaign was to devote resources to widespread vaccination of the public again neonatal tetanus, inadequate attention was given to the education and “sensitizing” of the recipients who perceived the vaccinations as foreign and potentially harmful. Combined with a mistrust of national government and conflicting views between local, regional, and national interests, the rumors surrounding the vaccines caused girls to choose suicide over vaccination and eventually led to the end of this unsuccessful and largely misunderstood public health campaign.

Oral rehydration therapy has been proven to be an effective agent in the fight against diarrheal disease. This simple packet of solution works to hydrate human bodies and immediately improves health conditions. While this treatment is used across the globe, in lecture we discussed why these oral rehydration solutions have not been even more effective. Western views interpret them as a miracle cure-all, however, mothers who endure great hardship to bring their sickly children to hospitals or clinics understand that their children need medical attention yet sometimes this simple solution is not perceived as an adequate measure for the direness of the situation. This website ( provides in depth information about the use and distribution of oral rehydration therapy.

This map illustrates the global distribution of Oral Rehydration Therapy.

Samantha Nelson

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