The development of Innoculation and Vaccination has proved to be one of the most significant advances in medical practice since the discovery of Antibiotics. The development has been responsible for the almost complete eradication of a number of diseases and, as a result, has contributed to the saving of millions of human lives.

However, this branch of medicine and Africa have a rather chequered history. Resulting from this history the recent commentary by South Africa’s Chief Justice becomes much more reasonable and logical. Vaccination and Africa were brought into the limelight by the movie “The Constant Gardener” starring Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz and Danny Huston.

In the movie, the wife of a British diplomat, and gardening nut, to Kenya is brutally murdered. This happens  while she is following a story about  the results of vaccine testing on citizens of the country. The “gardening” aspect is used to compare the gentility of the diplomat against the effects of testing on simple, uneducated victims. Box office earnings were US$ 82.4 million.

The book, written by John Le Carre, resulted from investigation of a number of trials conducted throughout Africa and their effects on those tested. These included:

  • The Testing of a Meningitis Drug in Nigeria, during which 11 children died;
  • HIV/AIDS Testing in Zimbabwe , in which AZT was tested on over 17000 pregnant women to measure its effect on mother to child transmission. From this testing over 1000 babies were born with HIV/AIDS.
  • Forced Contraception in Zimbabwe, where a birth-control drug was tested on commercial farms. Subsequently the drug was banned in the country;
  • Sterilisation Experiments in Namibia (German South West Africa at the time), where experiments were carried out on mixed-race children. These tests took place in the late 19th and early 20th

The results of these series of trials will have been spread through the Countries concerned and, eventually, throughout the continent.  Despite any benefits, the trials could, justifiably, be considered the “work of the Devil” and the strident concern suggested by Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has serious justification and deserves our support.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?