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Islamic anti-vaxxers in the south causing measles outbreak

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Islamic anti-vaxxers in the south causing measles outbreak | The Thaiger

by Pratch Rujivanrom

Anti-vaxxers in Thailand’s deep south are causing widespread discomfort and even death with a current measles outbreak sweeping through the three southern-most provinces. Vaccine denial is common in some Muslim communities and has contributed to the deaths of at least six patients, including children, over the past three months.

Though vaccines are proven to prevent diseases – they’ve been particularly effective in preventing measles – the Department of Disease Control (DDC) is worried that a measles epidemic is quickly spreading in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat – due to a large proportion of the residents rejecting immunisation for their children for religious reasons.

Yala province alone has registered nearly 500 measles infections since the disease began spreading in June, according to the Yala Provincial Public Health Office. So far there have been six deaths in the province, and the infection rate has rapidly risen since September.

“The main cause of the mass outbreak of measles in the far South is the large number of Muslims who are refusing to take the vaccine,” said Vaccine Preventable Diseases Division director Dr Pornsak Yoocharoen.

“They have been incorrectly taught that these vaccines are haram, forbidden for Muslims to use or consume. Parents wrongly believe it would be against Islamic teaching to allow their children to be immunised by taking the vaccine.”

“The high proportion of vaccine denial among the population group has reduced the immunisation coverage down to 30-40 per cent in some areas, which highly increases the risk for mass infections of vaccine preventable diseases in that area,” Pornsak said.

The refusals continue, “even though the Sheikhul Islam Office has already told the Muslim communities in Thailand that the use of vaccines is not against the Islamic teaching”, he said.

Sheikhul Islam Office secretary Sutham Boonmalert directly addressed the issue last week, saying that though some vaccines contain ingredients derived from pigs, which are forbidden for Muslims, it was more important for a good Muslim to remain in good physical health at all times.

Therefore, until alternative vaccines that do not contain haram ingredients are invented, Muslims may use vaccines without having to worry that they are violating the Islamic doctrine, Sutham stated.

Pornsak said the main problem is that many Muslims in the far South remain sceptical about the official clarification and advice from authorities. They are unconvinced and instead believe in the inaccurate teachings of their local Dato (Islamic teacher), who preaches against vaccination.

“We have been trying to promote childhood immunisation in the three Southernmost provinces for many years, but these efforts are not very fruitful,” he said.

“This is because since the southern insurgency was ignited a decade ago, officers have found it harder to work with local communities due to the lack of trust among local Muslims and the insecure situation for the officers.”

Moreover, he said some side-effects of vaccination, which may cause mild fever in children, also caused their parents to fear harm to their children’s health from vaccines.

He estimated that due to the severity of vaccine denial in the far South, the overall vaccine coverage in Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat was as low as 50 per cent, well below the medically endorsed rate of over 80 per cent, and too low to create mutual immunity to diseases among the population group.

He added that the lower than average vaccination coverage in the far South also raised the risks for a major outbreak of other vaccine preventable diseases, such as diphtheria, rubella and pertussis.

Measles is a highly infectious disease and can be fatal in children. Vaccinating a child age between nine months and two years old is a proven and effective prevention.

Islamic anti-vaxxers in the south causing measles outbreak | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Crime

Scrap metal merchant arrested over stolen rail track pins causing train derailment

Tanutam Thawan

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Scrap metal merchant arrested over stolen rail track pins causing train derailment | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Twitter@pr.railway 

A scrap metal shop owner has been arrested for stealing rail track ‘pins’ that were responsible for the derailment of a railway carriages heading south from Bangkok to Chumpon province yesterday. The derailment happened in the Phetchaburi province.

The incident happened yesterday (Monday) just after midday and took the rest of the day and evening to lift the carriage back onto the tracks, and inspect the railways lines and missing pins (that hold the railway tracks onto the timber sleepers).

Read the story HERE.

The State Railway of Thailand reports that train #255 from Thonburi to Lang Suan station in Chumphon province became derailed at 12.04pm after departing the Huay Sai Tai station in Cha-am.

They confirmed that six carriages had jumped off the rails. They believed that the theft of steel nails used to fix the tracks to the sleepers had been stolen. Railway teams and cranes went to the scene to lift the carriages back on the tracks and assess the damage.

The acting State Railway governor says inspectors found 168 rail fastening screws and 40 track base plates were missing, along with 340 wooden sleepers damaged over a distance of 350 metres.

Police and railway officials raided the Rungcharoen scrap metal shop in Cha-am district last night. They found 25 rail base plates and 66 rail track pins on the premises.

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The owner, Supachai Padsri, was arrested for theft and receiving stolen items. He is denying the charges claiming that a person had deposited the items at his shop a few days ago.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Insurgency

Deputy PM scoffs at demands from southern insurgency group

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Deputy PM scoffs at demands from southern insurgency group | The Thaiger

FILE PHOTO

Southern peace talks continue to go nowhere as demands from either side prevent meaningful discourse in the two decade-long border scuffle.

In the latest salvo, the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon has scoffed at a demand by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, the most prominent of the southern insurgency groups, to release suspects in security cases before peace negotiations can recommence.

“How could they possibly suggest something like that?”

The insurgency in the Malay-speaking region of predominantly Buddhist Thailand has killed some 7,000 people over the past 15 years and weekly attacks are still a feature of southern provincial life.

The BRN group officials told Reuters that they met a Thai delegation at “a location in Southeast Asia” on Friday and demanded the release of all people detained over suspected links to the insurgency and a transparent investigation into abuses by Thai security forces.

70 year old Pak Fakir, a senior BRN member spoke to Reuters in somewhat opaque metaphors.

“If the official peace talks are a feast then these secret meetings are like bringing the cow into the kitchen, but the cow is not even slaughtered yet. The Thai state is like an oiled, slippery eel.”

The Thai delegation attending the weekend meeting allegedly included a team headed by the government’s designated chief negotiator General Udomchai Thamasarorat although the General has declined to comment on whether a meeting ever took place.

An unarmed military source says the efforts to stem the insurgency in the far South had been complicated by the reported interference by elements from a foreign state that allegedly provided training to insurgent operatives active in the southern border provinces.

The source also claimed another insurgency group, Patani United Liberation Organisation, was attempting to organise weapons training sessions for its younger members.

Past contacts with BRN never led to official high-level talks and the group has maintained a guerrilla war demanding independence for the Thai provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat which were part of an independent Malay sultanate before the kingdom of Siam annexed them in 1909.

Pak Fakir stated that the groups will never attack northward of the three southern provinces as they don’t wish to be perceived as ‘terrorists’.

“The root cause of our problem is colonisation and this has never been touched upon in past talks.”

SOURCES: Reuters | Bangkok Post

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Bangkok

Train derails heading south from Bangkok

Tanutam Thawan

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Train derails heading south from Bangkok | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chaiwat Satyaem

Rail services between Bangkok and southern provinces were delayed yesterday after a passenger train jumped tracks in the Cha-am district of Phetchaburi province, about four hours south of the capital. There were no injuries reported.

The incident happened around midday yesterday.

The State Railway of Thailand reports that train 55 from Thonburi to Lang Suan station in Chumphon province became derailed at 12.04pm after departing the Huay Sai Tai station in Cha-am.

They confirmed that six carriages had jumped off the rails. They believed that the theft of steel nails used to fix the tracks to the sleepers had been stolen. Railway teams and cranes went to the scene to lift the carriages back on the tracks and assess the damage.

The Hua Hin station mater noted that there were some of the large steel nails missing from the accident scene.

Trains in both directions were affected for the rest of the afternoon but were able to resume early last night.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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