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Nigeria Immunizes Children Throughout Country Against Polio

  • Jacqueline Mesarawon

Doctor Tope Olugbile and a small team of volunteers go house to house to immunize the 328 children in the Awada neighborhood of Lagos.Nigerian children are vacinated to prevent the deadly disease of polio.

"Most of them have been immunized before," Dr. Olugbile said. "You know we have these routine immunizations. This is more or less a plus. This is more or less a booster to what they have been getting before."

The team is one of many that is traveling to every city, village and home in Nigeria in an effort to immunize every child under five years old against this deadly and crippling disease. Last year Nigeria had 790 reported cases of polio -- that is the highest number of cases in the world.

In Awada neighborhood the health workers meet little resistance from the families they encounter.

Calvin Kalu's first child is getting immunized for the first time. "I would say it is a dividend of democracy we're enjoying," Kalu said. "You see, it is the first time we are enjoying this type of thing from our government."

But Ngozi Chukwujekwu recently had her child immunized at the local hospital and was concerned about allowing a second dose in a short period of time.

"The basic truth is, the more your baby takes the immunization, the higher preventive your child is against that infection," Dr. Olugbile explained. "Do you understand?"

During this three day exercise, health workers mark the houses they visit and the fingers of the children they immunize. Later, they will return to immunize any children they miss. They are hoping their effort will greatly reduce the number of cases of polio in Nigeria.

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