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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More