News / Health

Nigeria Polio Cases Drop 50 Percent in 2013

Map of Africa showing occurrence of polio in 1988 and 2012Map of Africa showing occurrence of polio in 1988 and 2012
x
Map of Africa showing occurrence of polio in 1988 and 2012
Map of Africa showing occurrence of polio in 1988 and 2012
Heather Murdock
Nigeria is one of just a few countries where children are still at risk of paralysis or death from polio.  The government and aid organizations are working furiously to vaccinate as many children as possible.  But as World Polio Day arrives this Friday, the country's worst-hit regions remain inaccessible to health care workers, and adult victims find little relief from crushing poverty.   

At this busy street corner in the Nigerian capital, 20-year-old Mohammad moves from car to car, putting his hand out for money.  His legs are shrunken and useless, so he sits on his homemade wooden skateboard and pushes himself through traffic with his hands.
 
He wears flip-flops on his hands to protect them as he lifts himself onto the curb.
 
Mohammad says he was four when he fell sick and lost the use of his legs.  By fourteen, his family couldn’t support him anymore, so he moved from northern Nigeria to the capital.  He’s never been to a doctor and he’s never heard of polio.
 
But health officials here say young men like Mohammad, who can be found on street corners across the country, are nearly all victims of polio -- a sometimes fatal but preventable disease that was wiped out in the Western hemisphere in the 1990s.
 
Nigeria has come a long way against polio since Mohammad was a child and the country has had only 49 cases so far this year --- half the number from the same period in 2012.  
 
​However, Kemi Lawanson, the national program coordinator for Rotary International PolioPlus in Nigeria, says for any victim, the disease is devastating.  

“When a child has polio and it is actually detected, or if it’s not detected early -- by the time the polio virus hits the child, especially under five… it cripples the child.  And it’s a lifelong crippling effect," said Lawanson.   
 
The Nigerian government and a host of aid organizations are trying to vaccinate as many children as possible.  But Lawanson says sometimes, convincing parents that a vaccination will protect children is difficult.

“In some parts of the endemic states, there is this strong belief that the polio vaccine, the oral polio vaccine causes infertility in their girls," said Lawanson. "As a result of which they don’t want to go for it. They worry it’s a risk to them."
 
The ‘endemic states’ Lawanson mentions are all in the north, where insurgents have terrorized the population since 2009.  
 
A health worker (R) vaccinates a child at a public health center where children are being vaccinated against polio in Kano, northern Nigerian, on February 13, 2013.A health worker (R) vaccinates a child at a public health center where children are being vaccinated against polio in Kano, northern Nigerian, on February 13, 2013.
x
A health worker (R) vaccinates a child at a public health center where children are being vaccinated against polio in Kano, northern Nigerian, on February 13, 2013.
A health worker (R) vaccinates a child at a public health center where children are being vaccinated against polio in Kano, northern Nigerian, on February 13, 2013.
Early this year, nine polio vaccinators were slaughtered in the northern state of Kano.  The Global Polio Eradication Initiative says vaccinators have no access to children in Borno state, the heart of the insurgency.
 
Last year, the only countries to report polio cases were Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chad, but so far this year, there have been victims in four other countries. 

The hardest hit is Somalia, with more than half of the world’s 296 cases reported this year.
 
Despite that nearly doubling of polio cases worldwide, Lawanson says Nigeria is still on track to eradicate the disease from the country by 2015.  She said aid workers are working with local leaders to encourage vaccination and meeting refugees as they flee dangerous but inaccessible areas.

But Mohammad said for him and his friend Jamilu, another victim, no help is available.  In fact, Jamilu said, if someone offered him an operation to fix his legs, he would decline.

Jamilu said if someone gave him money he wouldn’t use it to pay for a doctor, but to open a shop to sell incense and other accessories.  
 
Mohammad and Jamilu said they didn’t know that major aid organizations are pouring billions of dollars into eradication efforts to prevent other children from suffering their fate.  
 
But if they are giving money away, Jamilu said, for only about $1,000 he could open a shop and stop begging on the streets.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
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 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.

AppleAndroid