NEWS » Cicciobello Morbillo controversy

Cicciobello Morbillo controversy

Cicciobello Morbillo, the doll with measles, launched by manufacturer Giochi Preziosi has sparked controversy in Italy.

The doll suffering from measles that can be cured with cream and plasters was disapproved of, by pro-vaccine medics who called for this latest edition of the popular doll, Cicciobello, to be withdrawn from the market.

According to some doctors the toy risked trivializing a serious disease which in Italy saw a significant outbreak last year, causing four deaths, included a 41-year-old and three children aged one, six, and nine. None of the victims had been vaccinated.

The point ciccobello Morbillo opponents are making is that measles is a serious illness which shouldn’t be turned into a game, as this would be like having dolls with lymphoma or meningitis. The risk is to induce people to worry more about the vaccine, which is safe, than about the disease which can be mortal. According to the World Health Organization, measles is a highly contagious disease, which remains one of the leading causes of death among children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.

The founder of the company, Enrico Preziosi, said the concept of a child playing at being a mum to cure a doll has existed for decades and doctors should focus on more serious things.

The anti-vaccines stance originates from the discredited claims of a link between the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism. This has had a significant impact on public perception of the safety of the vaccination.

Italy’s parliament recently passed a law that requires parents to prove their children have the required vaccinations, including those against measles and meningitis, before entering school. For non-compliant parents there is a €500 fine.

The two parties which obtained the majority of the votes in the last election: the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League promised to scrap the compulsory vaccination law.

M5S has played a significant role in raising doubts over the efficacy of vaccinations. The party put forward a law proposal in 2014 calling for better information and the possibility to refuse the vaccine, based on the before mentioned link between the vaccinations and autism.

The anti-vaccines stance is not only an Italian problem, Europe has long struggled with a vaccine mistrust problem and these new laws and policy proposals arose in the context of ongoing, unprecedented measles outbreaks across the continent. Europe recorded some 21,000 measles cases in 2017 — with the worst outbreaks in Italy, Romania, and Ukraine, causing a global crackdown on vaccine-refusing parents.

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