Saturday 18 November 2017

Irish mum to address EU on dangers of anti-vaccine campaigners: 'The risk to society has never been greater'

Fiona O'Leary will address the EU this week
Fiona O'Leary will address the EU this week

Kathy Armstrong

An Irish mum is set to address the EU this week on the dangers of anti-vaccine campaigners and alternative medicine.

Fiona O'Leary (45) claims that social media has helped spread misinformation about traditional medical treatments and could put lives at risk.
she is a carer for her sons, who have Autism, and this has pushed her to campaign to stop myths surrounding the condition.

Fiona, who lives in Cork, will address the EU Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday as part of the Evidence Matters EU event.

She said: "I will speak on the dangers posed to society by the anti vaccine movement and the rise in unregulated, unproven and dangerous bogus Autism 'treatments'.

"These are a serious concern to the safety of the Autistic community worldwide.

"I was invited to speak by Sense about Science, an independent campaigning charity that challenges the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life."

Awareness: Fiona (centre) with her children, clockwise from back, Dillon (24), Romy (9), Phoebe (7) Sienna (9) and Vito (12)
Awareness: Fiona (centre) with her children, clockwise from back, Dillon (24), Romy (9), Phoebe (7) Sienna (9) and Vito (12)

Among the Irish politicians who will be attending the event are MEPs Mairead McGuinness, Matt Carthy and Lynn Boylan.

Read More: Dr Ciara Kelly: The danger of following the health advice and 'nutri-babble' of your favourite Snapchatters

Fiona said that she is concerned about people who promote so-called innovative treatments that could actually be doing more harm than good.

She explained: "Over the last four years campaigning against the exploitation of Autistic people (especially children) at the hands of charlatans, quacks, and an alternative medical industry which freely experiments with unregulated, unproven and often toxic therapies I have learned that we need to legislate to protect vulnerable people from such practices.

"As the anti vaccine movement gains traction and political support from powerful individuals and organisations, more political representatives around the world are abandoning science.
"The risk to society has never been greater."

She said that she is determined to get her message out there.

Fiona said: "The anti vaccine movement thrives on spreading fear and mistrust, but the deadly diseases which have become a distant memory for many in the developed world can and will return to reek havoc should the vaccine rates continue to fall.

"I don't want more people to be lulled by fear and complacency away from proven science and into the world of conspiracy and alternative narrative."

Read More: 'I am on the autism spectrum... we're different, not disordered' - Mum who was diagnosed at 42

She said that she hopes that politicians and organisations support her work.

Fiona said: "I'm tired of campaigning for our basic human rights.

"I'm excited but want serious action to be taken by government s worldwide."

For more information about Fiona's work please visit here.

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