News / Africa

Despite Insecurity, Polio Drops 85% in Nigeria

FILE - An unidentified health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kawo Kano, Nigeria, April. 13, 2014.
FILE - An unidentified health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kawo Kano, Nigeria, April. 13, 2014.
Heather Murdock

Aid workers in Nigeria say they have never been closer to eradicating polio, with only four new cases reported this year.  But as insurgent attacks grow more violent in the north, the workers say vaccination programs are at "high risk" and continued success will depend on new strategies to reach children in what have become war zones.  

Globally, polio this year has increased by more than 15 percent, with 10 countries reporting new cases.  Two years ago, there were only four countries that had polio, which can kill or cripple and there is no cure.  The World Health Organization calls the spread a “public health emergency.”
 
But in Nigeria the number of new polio cases this year has decreased by 85 percent to four cases reported so far this year, compared to 26 cases reported in the same time frame in 2013.

“We have never gotten this close to eradicating polio.  If you look at the statistics compared to last year we’ve really done very, very good,” said Kazeem Mustapha, vice chairman of Rotary International's Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee.   
 
But northern Nigeria, where most of the polio cases are found, is getting more dangerous and Boko Haram insurgents have killed thousands of people this year alone.  Militants have been holding more than 200 school girls captive for nearly three months and hundreds of other children have been slaughtered in their school houses.
 
Despite more than a year of emergency rule, in three northern states, Mustapha said the insurgency remains the biggest threat to meeting eradication goals.  “When our field coordinators are going for a particular assignment and they get information that an area is, at that particular time, is not very safe.  What do they do?  They retreat,” he explained.

He said vaccination teams are still operating amid the violence and trying new strategies, like going into dangerous areas in a matter of days or hours, calling it a “hit and run.”  

According to Mustapha, “firewalling” an area means setting up vaccination points around war zones, so when the people flee their homes, children can be vaccinated.
 
But Boko Haram attacks continue with increasing sophistication and reach.  Mustapha said vaccination efforts need to do the same.
 
“There is need for more collaboration and gathering of intelligence, even partnership.  We need security agents to advise when to move in and when to move out.  Honestly speaking, it’s a problem,” he said.

But Mustapha said he is still confident that Nigeria can start the clock on declaring the country polio-free by the end of 2014.  Nigeria’s last reported case was in May and it takes three years without new cases to be declared polio-free.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Raheem OluwFunmniyi from: Nigeria
July 20, 2014 8:42 PM
I have no doubt in my mind that we shall get to that point where polio will be eradicated in Nigeria despite the security challenges. As a partner with the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation which over the years, especially in the last two has committed huge resources to the polio effort, we are certain these challenges will be stemmed.


by: Rotr. Igelle Innocent from: D9130 Abuja CB
July 18, 2014 6:10 AM
Thanks for the efforts. Care must be taken to avoid being hit by bullets. It. is a good thing that the people are availing their children for polio vaccination.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid