World News / Africa

    Cameroon Blames Pentecostals for Backpedaling Anti-polio Crusade

    Cameroon launched a polio vaccination campaign for 6.2 million children this year. Volunteers (above) administered the vaccine in Nigeria in 2005.
    Cameroon launched a polio vaccination campaign for 6.2 million children this year. Volunteers (above) administered the vaccine in Nigeria in 2005.
    Ntaryike Divine Jr.
    The government of Cameroon has conducted another crackdown on Pentecostal churches. The second attack came after the Ministry of Health charged earlier this year that leaders of some Pentecostal churches are partly responsible for the country’s faltering efforts to exterminate poliomyelitis.

    The closures follow the government shut-down of more than 100 Pentecostal churches that lacked government authorization to operate. In that earlier move, authorities blamed Pentecostals for what they called anti-social practices - deadly exorcisms, separation and divorces, nighttime uproars and the extortion of naïve worshippers.

    Until late last year, Cameroon appeared to be polio-free. But between September and November, health officials were dumb-founded following the detection of four cases of wild poliovirus in the West Region. 

    The findings raised concerns that polio has returned to a country that 25 years after it launched a successful eradication drive.

    Dr. Marie Ekobela, coordinator of the National Immunization Program in the Ministry of Health, blames hardline Pentecostal doctrines for the polio-resurgence.

    “The first case was detected in a 7-year-old child in September. That’s unusual because a 7-year-old should have been vaccinated. The kid belonged to a family wherein the grandfather is an official with a Pentecostal church and who doesn’t want to hear anything about vaccination. So this child was not immunized and her infection was the source of this epidemic.”
     
    Lame youth blames her Pentecostal mother
     
    Delphine Manka’a, the 15-year-old daughter of a Pentecostal church-going mother in the largest city, Douala, has not walked since she was two.  Lame in both legs, she is restricted to a wheelchair and crutches.

    Polio is spread by direct exposure to carriers of the virus who have eaten foods contaminated with the feces or saliva droplets of already infected persons. The virus assaults the central nervous system, causing mild or total paralysis of muscles in the limbs, neck, abdomen or the face. 

    Listen to Ntaryike Divine's interviews about poliomyelitis
    Listen to Ntaryike Divine's interviews about poliomyelitisi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Manka’a says it has been hard to pardon her mother who refused to allow her immunization against the highly contagious disease.

    “I wouldn’t be paralyzed if she had let me get the vaccine when I was young,” said the youth. “It was only after my case that she decided to go against the church belief, which does not accept vaccination.  My two brothers are all fine because they were vaccinated.”

    Health experts agree the hardline Pentecostal dogma against immunization and vaccination-apathy that exists among some Muslim communities are roadblocks in Cameroon’s protracting struggle against polio.
     
    Targeting 6.2 million children
     
    In January, the government organized a counter-offensive to the outbreak with a nationwide door-to-door immunization campaign targeting over 6.2 million children aged zero to ten years.  It was the first of three interventions lined up for first three months of 2014.

    Inoculators reported slight slumps in resistance associated with cultural beliefs, concerns over vaccine-safety and rumors claiming the vaccines are intended to render African children barren.

    “Several people are still hesitant even though the vaccines are given free of charge,” said Fokou, a vaccination supervisor in Douala. “In my coverage area, I did not really experience resistance so to speak, but hesitation. 

    People don’t easily fathom the reason for the repeated campaigns and so are a bit suspicious. But once we explain that it’s because four cases were detected last year and could spread countrywide, most understand and let us into their homes.

    Across the country, healthworkers are formulating assorted charm offensives in bids to boost vaccination coverage rates.   
     
    Offering mothers soap as bait
     
    Ernestine Rose Tsafack, a health district service head in Douala, told VOA they offer mothers an incentive to bring their children in for vaccinations. “We think this is stimulating them.”

    A similar bait in the mainly Muslim North Region enabled an over 90 percent coverage rate. But observers reckon the likelihood of a complete eradication in Cameroon in the near future appears remote.

    Dr. Ekobela says their challenges include health threats from their neighbors. “Since the start of 2013, there has been a steady influx of refugees fleeing conflicts in Nigeria and the Central African Republic and there’s no guarantee that these people are polio-free. 
    “Also, there’s the fact that some parents don’t respect vaccination calendars and on our side, healthcare delivery is scaled down by the lack of sufficient funds.”

    She says if surveillance gaps are bridged, rapid detection and crossborder diagnosis systems installed and year-long top quality immunization campaigns adopted, polio eradication may be feasible by next year.
    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora