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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid