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» 05.03.2007 - Nigerian programme increases polio immunisation

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Polio vaccines now accepted all over Nigeria

afrol News, 12 May - The Nigerian government today reports that the all Nigerian states now have accepted the polio immunisation campaign after some northern Nigerian states earlier had rejected the vaccine. The immunisation pause had caused polio to be reintroduced in nine African countries, from Burkina Faso to Botswana.

- Polio vaccine, which was a few months ago rejected by some people in some parts of the country, for the immunisation of children between the ages of 0-5, has now been accepted by everybody in the country, the federal government of Nigeria said in a statement released today.

According to the statement, "feedback reports from all Federal Information Centres in the 36 States and Abuja have confirmed general acceptance of the vaccine in all parts of Northern and Southern Nigeria." Until February this year, three northern Nigerian states were rejecting the vaccine. Since then, only Zamfara state has hindered the global immunisation effort.

Religious and traditional leaders in Kano and Zamfara states of northern Nigeria last year stopped the UN's polio vaccination campaign, claiming that the polio vaccine was unsafe and a US plot to spread AIDS and infertility among Muslims. These were also the two areas with Africa's highest prevalence of polio, a disease which was on the brink of extermination in Africa.

Since the halt in the large-scale internationally financed polio immunisation campaign, the paralysing disease rapidly has spread to eight countries in Western Africa that previously had managed to exterminate polio. As Nigerian polio stroke far-away Botswana in April, African pressure on Nigeria to go with immunisation hardened.

According to the Nigerian federal government, there have been strong efforts to gain confidence for the vaccine. Nigeria's First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, recently toured many states to ensure that the final phase of the immunisation programme was successfully carried out.

Reports received by the federal government had also indicated "efforts of some reputable emirs in the north, who led the campaign to encourage all their subjects to immunise their children." North Nigeria's emirs are traditional leader with religious authority.

Further, according to the Nigerian press release, many state governors and their wives had invested great effort towards making the polio vaccines acceptable in their states. "Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Ahmed Sani, brought out his children for immunisation during the last phase of the immunisation exercise," the statement noted.

- It is hoped that with the general acceptance of the polio vaccine all over the country, polio will definitely be kicked out of the country next year, the federal government of Nigeria concluded.

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