UNICEF has detected 20 new polio cases in northern Nigeria. These cases threaten to erase the substantial progress Nigeria has made in eliminating the disease. The country reduced polio deaths from 338 to 21 from between 2009 and 2010, but a wild-type poliovirus has now been reported in six Nigerian state.
In 2003, Kano state refused to participate in a polio vaccination campaign after a few Muslim leaders stated the vaccines were actually anti-fertility drugs. Eventually health workers were able to allay the fears of parents. Then in 2005, 69 cases of polio were found to be due to the live virus in the oral vaccine drop, triggering a new wave of suspicion and fear of vaccination. The World Health Organization has worked closely with local leaders to achieve a high rate of vaccination and drop Kano state’s polio case count to only 1 in 2010. The new cases are in Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Yobe.
WHO has pledged to eliminate polio worldwide by 2012, a goal that will now be even harder to achieve.