Friday, July 23, 2004

Nigeria: polio vaccination drive next week

Ibrahim Shekarau, governor of Kano State will have his own two-month-old daughter vaccinated for polio during next week's immunization drive. Health workers will try to vaccinate four million children under the age of five between July 29 and August 2.
Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, who won election last year on a promise to rule according to Islamic law, was at first sympathetic to claims that the West was plotting to depopulate Africa through the use of contaminated drugs.

In August last year he suspended Kano's participation in a global immunisation drive designed to eradicate polio by the end of 2004.

But on Monday, with polio spreading rapidly from Kano through Nigeria and into other African countries once considered safe from the disease, he finally accepted the results of scientific tests proving the vaccine's safety.

[...] And with 257 cases, Nigeria now has more than three-quarters the world's active polio infections, which strike babies and toddlers and leave them with permanently withered or lifeless limbs.

In March this year alone, 85 Nigerian children were struck down by the virus, in what experts say in the fastest spreading outbreak ever recorded. (source)