Polio Is Active in Only Three Countries. Soon It Could Be Down to Two
Monday, June 29, 2015
After nearly a full year without a reported case of polio, Nigeria may have defeated the disease. If so, it will mark the first time that the African continent is free of polio transmission.
Sabin’s executive vice president, Jon Andrus speaks with NPR about how Nigerian health officials have helped eliminate polio by changing community perspectives on the vaccine in the last fifteen years.
"'They [Nigerian health officials] did not have the engagement of the community, probably the most important factor in making sure all children get vaccinated.'
"Nigeria came under huge international pressure to get polio under control. Aid agencies used carrots and sticks and shame to try to get the West African nation to contain the virus. They promised additional international funds for other pressing health needs. But the additional assistance was contingent on Nigeria tackling polio. Local religious leaders were courted, wooed and cajoled in to supporting the vaccination campaigns.
"Then the public had to be brought on board too. At one point the Emir of Kano publicly immunized his own children and drank a vial of polio vaccine to prove it was safe."