Photo: Presidential Press Office
Brazilian politician Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for President in the forthcoming election, has been investigated by the country’s top court.
The Brazilian Supreme Court has opened an investigation into leading presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro for questioning a national anti-vaccination group about a claim that there is a link between vaccines and autism.
The group, called the Federal Council of Adivasis (CfA), was accused by Mr Bolsonaro of having “fraudulently” gained access to the vaccination programme.
The politician claimed that the group, which supports vaccination, was demanding signatures from 100,000 parents in exchange for compensation, similar to the way some banks “scammed people when they were trying to apply for new credit”.
On 13 August, the spokesperson for the CFA, Anna Maria Bonaiuto, criticised Mr Bolsonaro’s remarks and said “it’s a fight against science.”
Mr Bolsonaro has repeatedly spoken out against vaccination and argued that the risk of contracting diseases like measles is greatly reduced by the use of vaccines.
He even alleged in April that the number of people who contract measles in Brazil has been declining due to a “wayward” national policy.
However, many medical specialists have been quick to point out that vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles, also increase the number of children who die in their first year of life because they lack access to adequate medical care.
In a statement, the head of the Brazilian Senate’s health committee, José Ackerman, claimed that Mr Bolsonaro’s comments “do not have credibility”.
The Federal Council of Adivasis has denied any involvement in vaccination and said that its foundation is “a non-profit organisation”, adding that it has never turned away a child because of lack of money.
“The group’s discussions about vaccinations are done exclusively for medical opinion, always motivated by a desire to prevent a child from contracting a disease,” Ms Bonaiuto said in a statement.
“With regard to the CFA’s comment on the events of 4 June, an educational campaign against vaccine hesitancy is being prepared for August, open to all… only to those who participate. The CFA has never attempted to ‘take children from families’.”
Mr Bolsonaro is expected to face competition in the October 7 presidential elections from Ciro Gomes, the former president of Brazil’s Oi telephone network, and former Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin.