Polio in Nigeria 'shows big increase'

A child being given a polio vaccination in Kano in northern Nigeria in 2005 Vaccinations have caused controversy in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north

Related Stories

A four-fold increase in polio has been reported in Nigeria, with the disease spreading to other countries, a World Health Organisation official says.

Forty-three cases were reported in Nigeria this year, compared to 11 last year, the official, Thomas Moran, said.

Curbing the polio virus in Nigeria is key to eradicating the crippling disease in Africa, he said.

In 2003, northern Nigeria's Muslim leaders leaders opposed vaccinations, claiming they could cause infertility.

Nigeria is one of four countries in the world - along with Pakistan, India and Afghanistan - where polio is still a major health risk.

'Strong leadership'

Mr Moran told the BBC the disease had also spread to neighbouring Niger, Mali and Ivory Coast.

Polio

  • Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus which invades the nervous system and may cause irreversible paralysis
  • It can strike at any age but mainly affects children under five
  • There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented
  • Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.
  • As long as a single child remains infected with polio, unvaccinated children in all countries are at risk

"The success of polio eradication in Africa rests on Nigeria interrupting the virus," he said.

Polio was affecting eight northern Nigerian states - two more than a few months ago, the head of Nigeria's National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA), Dr Ado Muhammad, told the BBC.

Mr Moran said the Nigerian government had shown "strong leadership" in the campaign to eradicate polio and the WHO had been carrying out large scale vaccination programmes to prevent the disease from spreading.

"The immunity profile of Nigerian children is far better [now], which limits the risk of international spread of the virus," Mr Moran said.

He also stressed that the number of children affected remained low.

"You can call it a four-fold increase but it is still very low transmission in a country as large as Nigeria with almost 50m children under five," he said.

At the Commonwealth summit last month, the leaders of Nigeria, Canada, the UK and Australia pledged millions of dollars towards the global effort to eradicate polio.

In 2003, the northern Nigerian state of Kano backed Muslim religious leaders in opposing an immunisation programme, claiming it was a Western plot to make people infertile.

Health experts say this led to many people becoming infected by polio.

The clerics and the state government later dropped their opposition to the immunisation programme.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

  • Man with typewriterLove to Patrick

    The official whose over-familiar letters infuriated his boss


  • Man's hands putting ring on woman's fingerName changer

    Why do wives take a man's name after marriage?


  • Person scratching their arm10 things

    Scratching really does make things itch, and other nuggets


  • Corsican flagCorsican mafia

    Are Corsica's days of mafia and militants over?


  • Mobil canopies on the A6 at Red Hill, LeicestershireEnglish heritage

    Zebra crossings to bus stations: unusual listed buildings


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.