Hundreds of Nigerians crippled by polio have staged a rally in the northern city of Kano to urge parents to vaccinate their children against the disease.

The chairman of a polio victims association in Kano says many parents in the area have been slow to respond to international immunization programs.

Muslim leaders in northern Nigeria suspended polio immunizations in late 2003, claiming the U.N. health agency had supplied a vaccine that would cause sterility.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the ban, which lasted a year, set Nigeria back in its efforts to fight polio. Nearly 500 cases of polio have been reported in the country this year, the most in the world by far.

The suspension in Kano was also blamed for causing polio to spread in a number of African nations and as far away as Indonesia.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.