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Police launches investigation into anti-vaccination Viber group campaign

Ali Shareef
15 January 2020, MVT 13:09
Measles vaccineA nurse draws a dose of mumps-measles-rubella, or MMR, vaccine. Photo: Mihaaru News
Ali Shareef
15 January 2020, MVT 13:09

Maldives Police Service on Tuesday, launched an investigation into a Viber group campaigning against vaccination.

The Viber group, Police said, was first brought to their attention last year. Having concluded interrogations with those in connection to the case, they were looking further into the matter, the Police stated.

While Maldives was declared measles free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in April 2017, the Health Protection Agency, on January 11, confirmed that a 3-year-old child was tested positive for measles.

Two days later on January 13, the health ministry confirmed that a second case, that of a 30-year old man, had surfaced. On Tuesday, the health agency reported a third case.

In response, the government initiated a vaccination campaign against the outbreak, specifically targeting unvaccinated individuals and those who did not receive the second dose of the vaccine, also to include awareness programmes catering to expatriates residing in the country.

In December 2019, the 'Asseyri' operation, a counter-terrorism operation led by Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), Police, and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services in Maduvvari, Raa Atoll, saw hardline extremists refusing to vaccinate their children.

Following negotiations with parents, four children were provided with the necessary vaccinations. One child was removed from the parent's custody and subsequently placed under the care of a relative.

Ratified in November 2019, the new child protection law makes vaccination mandatory.

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