The World Health
Organization says Nigeria had the highest number of reported cases of polio in
the world last year. This disease can cripple and kill those infected. It hopes to reduce the number of future
infections. Nigeria recently completed a three day national effort to immunize
every child in the country. This effort is part of an international campaign
to immunize every child in the world against polio.
While it may not
taste good, the vaccine will prevent the deadly disease. Doctor Tope Olugbile
and a small team of volunteers are going house to house to immunize the 328 children
in the Awada neighborhood of Lagos.
The doctor says, “Most
of them have been immunized before. You know we have these routine immunizations. This is just a plus. This is more or less a
booster to what they have been getting before.”
This 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. Last year Nigeria had 790
reported cases of polio -- the highest number of cases in the world.
Here in the Awada
neighborhood health workers meet little resistance from the families they
encounter. Calvin Kalu says his
first child is getting immunized for the first time, “I would say it is a
dividend of democracy. 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. Dr. Olugbile
reassured her, “The basic truth is, the more your baby takes the immunization,
the higher preventive your child is against that infection…”
During the three day
exercise, health workers mark the houses they visit and the fingers of the
children they immunize. They will return later to immunize any children they
miss. They hope their effort will help in greatly reducing the number of cases
of polio in Nigeria.