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NPR Examines Efforts To Eradicate Polio In Nigeria

NPR’s “Shots” blog reports on efforts to eradicate polio in Nigeria. “[N]orthern Nigeria is the only place in the world where polio cases are increasing,” the blog writes, noting, “As of Sept. 1, it had recorded 90 polio cases in 2012 — or nearly three times as many as in the same period last year.” The blog highlights the city of Kano in northern Nigeria, which “has been called the ‘epicenter’ of the current polio outbreak,” and where “remnants of the paralyzing disease are visible even on its streets.” “Vaccination campaigns are regular fixtures here,” the blog writes, adding, “In the past few years, religious leaders in this region have gone from opposing vaccination to requiring it.”

“This new-found zeal from Muslim leaders has helped overcome resistance to the vaccine, but there’s still a major problem of kids falling through the cracks during immunization drives,” the blog continues, noting, “The local ministry of health is attempting to address this by restructuring the campaigns” so that volunteers are paid a small stipend each month to “mak[e] sure every child under the age of five in their particular neighborhood, village or slum gets the vaccine.” The blog discusses other challenges — such as security, poor sanitation, and a lack of organization — and states that “the main strategy for fighting polio in northern Nigeria [is to] do more of everything: more surveillance, more staff and more vaccinations; and launch an all-out offensive until the virus has nowhere left to hide.” A link to an audio version of the story from NPR’s “Morning Edition” also is available (Beaubien, 10/16).

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