Most countries of the world have eradicated Polio, but Nigeria is yet to achieve total eradication of the disease especially in the Northern parts of the country.
The Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. based think tank is of the opinion that the insecurity situation in the North brought about by the Boko Haram insurgency is part of the problem. Can this really be true?
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative says Nigeria has recorded 77 new cases of polio so far this year and this is about 25 percent increase compared to 2011 in the country. While Polio has no cure, it is easily preventable with the polio vaccine. Polio leads to paralysis of varying degrees.
John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, says the vaccine is available in Northern Nigeria, where most of the victims are found, but families often refuse it. He says many think it is a plot against Muslims devised by Southern Christians and the West.
This mistrust was aggravated by Western pharmaceutical companies in the past, whose misdeeds have caused northern governors to shut down vaccine programs from time to time.The way to convince people the vaccine will help their children, he says, is to work through local institutions, like schools or mosques.
Campbell says insecurity in the north also makes it hard for aid groups to start new vaccine programs and the Boko Haram's ideology, which is deeply distrustful of the West, reinforces the fear of vaccines.
The World Health Organization says polio cases have decreased by over 99 percent since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 victims.
We at NigeriaTop believe there should be more jingles in all the local Nigerian languages to encourage all parents to vaccinate their children against Polio. The disease is debilitating and it limits what a victim of it can do in life.
The campaign for the eradication of polio should be intensified and partnering with Government and local authorities should be encourages ensure that Nigeria achieves total eradication.