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Nigeria To Resume Polio Immunization Scheme


Nigerian State To Resume Polio Immunization Scheme Next Month – Un Agency

The authorities in the last northern Nigerian state to resume polio immunization campaigns have informed the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) that vaccinations will begin early next month, ending the suspension that had led to the rapid spread of the disease across sub-Saharan Africa.

The Governor of Kano state, Ibrahim Shekarau, has asked WHO to help plan and implement the immunization campaign, which the UN agency says is critical to helping contain the epidemic that has infected 10 previously polio-free countries.

Kano and several other northern Nigerian states suspended polio immunization schemes late last year after local religious and community leaders said they had concerns about the safety of the oral vaccine. Every other state has resumed vaccinations and Mr. Shekarau had told WHO officials that he now accepts the vaccine is safe.

WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook said the ongoing suspension in northern Nigeria has placed thousands of African children at risk of paralysis from polio.

Referring to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a mass immunization programme which started in 1988 and has cut the number of polio-endemic countries from 125 to six, Dr. Lee said it was vital to restart operations in Kano and swiftly increase the population’s immunity.

“If the campaigns were not resumed in Kano, a 20-year, $3 billion effort involving 20 million people to eradicate polio would be in jeopardy,” he said.

WHO is holding talks with polio experts about what other measures could be taken to try to rein in the continuing spread of the latest epidemic. Last week, authorities in the Darfur region of Sudan confirmed a child has been paralyzed by polio, the first such case in the country in three years. Cases have also been confirmed in Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo.

WHO is also warning foreign travellers to northern Nigeria that they remain at high risk of contracting polio, and urged them to make sure they have updated vaccinations.

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