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Cablegate: Nigeria: Status of Polio Eradication Initiative

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

020324Z Mar 04

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000363

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, USAID/W FOR AFR/WA, MICHAEL KARBELING,
GH/AA, ANN PETERSON, HOPE SUKIN GH/CH SURVIVAL,
CONNIE NEWMAN
LAGOS FOR ADMIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI NI AID
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: STATUS OF POLIO ERADICATION INITIATIVE


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SUMMARY
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1. This cable highlights the current situation related to
polio eradication in Nigeria.

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BACKGROUND
----------

2. Nigeria is the largest remaining polio reservoir
globally. As recently as mid-2003, transmission was confined
to the northern portion of the country in just 8 states and
the Federal Capitol Territory (FCT), with most of the cases
occurring in Kano State. Since August 2003, the virus has
spread from the north of Nigeria into an additional 15
previously polio-free states as well as nine neighboring
countries, some of which had been polio-free for as long as
two years.

3. The most recent NIDS, February 23 ? 25, 2004 were
conducted in 32 States and the FCT. Kano and Zamfara States
did not participate due to controversy over the safety of
the oral polio vaccine. Some Local Government Areas (LGA) in
Niger State and one LGA in Bauchi State did not participate
also due to the controversy.

4. In order to deal with this controversy surrounding the
safety of the oral polio vaccine and at the request of the
Jamat Nasril Islam (JNI). JNI is the highest decision
making body for the Islamic religion in Nigeria, chaired by
the Sultan of Sokoto and all First Class Emirs in the North
including selected Islamic scholars. The GON sent 25
scientists, religious and traditional leaders, northern
state government officials and federal government officials
and the press to South Africa, India and Indonesia. The
purpose of the trip was to conduct tests on the oral polio
vaccine with a view to exonerating the existence of any
contaminants. All test reports are in except those from
India, which are expected by February 29, 2004. Zamfara and
Kano States are awaiting the complete test results before
going forward with the NIDs.

5. There are positive indications that 2 out of 3 (South
Africa and Indonesia) test results to date confirm the
safety of the oral polio vaccine. Results from India are
still pending.

6. It is important to note that the representative of the
Sultan of Sokoto who was one of the religious leaders
visiting South Africa, India and Indonesia, was unequivocal
about his conviction that the vaccine is safe and free from
contaminants. Answering questions from a BBC reporter, he
further affirmed that he was going home to ensure that his
children are vaccinated and called on all Muslims to do the
same. Sokoto participated in the recent round of NIDS due to
this support from the Sultan's Representative.

7. The Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Kul Ganthem,
was featured on CNN?s Inside Africa 6:30 p.m. Saturday,
February 28, 2004. He gave more balanced view of the
situation in Nigeria than previous CNN reports.
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NEXT STEPS
----------

8. Receipt of final test results from India, which are
expected by February 29th.

9. Confirmation that the final tests confirm the safety of
the vaccine.

10. A positive announcement is expected by March 11, 2004
confirming the safety of test results. The President of
Nigeria is expected to meet with all 36 governors and
religious leaders to dialogue about polio eradication, tests
results and a way forward.

11. Moving forward with the NIDS in Kano and Zamfara States
as well as previously reluctant LGAs in Niger and Bauchi
States. These States and LGAs will then join the rest of
Nigeria in the second round of NIDs scheduled for March 25 ?
April 1, 2004.

12. UNICEF and WHO are attempting to get Professor Gambari,
Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Deputy
Secretary General of the United Nations, who is a Nigerian

SIPDIS
from Kwara State, to come to Nigeria and dialogue with the
President and 19 Northern State governors on polio
eradication.
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USG SUPPORT
-----------

13. The USG will support this second round of NIDS by: (1)
training over 50,000 vaccinators and supervisors, (2)
developing key behavior change communication messages for
leaders and communities, and (3) providing continued support
to polio surveillance through a grant to the World Health
Organization.

14. In addition, the USG will support a special
participatory planning and action process that will ensure
community ownership of the polio eradication initiative in
Kano State. Kano State has specifically requested USG
support to implement this community approach, which was
previously used to ensure the success of child survival
interventions, to facilitate polio eradication. With the
active support of communities and their leaders, it is
anticipated that all children under five will be vaccinated.
This approach will also be supported, for the first time, by
the National Program on Immunization (NPI), WHO and UNICEF.

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CONCLUSION
----------

15. The critical element in moving the program forward at
this time is confirmation of vaccine safety from final test
results from India. There are indications that the results
on vaccine safety will be positive. All donors are
therefore ready to assist the GON to disseminate the
findings of the test results and advocate to all religious,
traditional and political leaders that they mobilize their
communities thereby ensuring that all children under five
are vaccinated in the next round of NIDS scheduled for March
25 to April 01, 2004. Kano and Zamafara States who have not
as yet had a first round of NIDS will be targeted for a
special supplemental NIDS from April 29 to May 04, 2004 in
addition to the March 25 to April 01, 2004 NIDs.

16. To ensure sustained polio eradication, efforts must
also be made to strengthen the routine immunization system
and move coverage from the current below 20 percent to 80
percent.

17. Post will provide regular reports on progress in the
effort to eradicate polio in Nigeria.

ANYASO

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