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Am J Public Health. 2012 Jul;102(7):1286-97. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300759. Epub 2012 May 17.

Global health in conflict. Understanding opposition to vitamin A supplementation in India.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205-2113, USA.


Vitamin A supplementation is a public health intervention that clinical trials have suggested can significantly improve child survival in the developing world. Yet, prominent scientists in India have questioned its scientific validity, opposed its implementation, and accused its advocates of corruption and greed. It is ironic that these opponents were among the pioneers of populationwide vitamin A supplementation for ocular health. Historically, complex interests have shaped vitamin A supplementation resistance in India. Local social and nutritional revolutions and shifting international paradigms of global health have played a role. Other resistance movements in Indian history, such as those in response to campaigns for bacillus Calmette-Guérin and novel vaccines, have been structured around similar themes. Public health resistance is shaped by the cultural and political context in which it develops. Armed with knowledge of the history of a region and patterns of past resistance, public health practitioners can better understand how to negotiate global health conflicts.

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