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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 11:16 GMT
Nigerian hopes on polio campaign
Anna Borzello
BBC correspondent, Lagos

A baby receives the vaccine in Lagos
The vaccines are to be retested before the campaign resumes
The Nigerian Government has said it hopes that a suspended polio vaccination campaign in the north of the country will resume soon.

Immunisation was halted in three states last year following fears that the vaccine was contaminated.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, has warned that unless the spread of the disease is checked, it would undermine eradication efforts.

The WHO aims to globally eradicate polio by 2005.

Vaccines to be retested

Nigerian Health Minister, Eyitayo Lambo, told the BBC he was confident the suspended polio immunisation programme, would be back on track before the end of March.

He said the government had set up a committee representing all concerned parties, which would retest the vaccine for impurities within the next few weeks.

The immunisation programme was suspended by three predominantly Muslim states last October, following reports by Islamic clerics that the vaccine was contaminated as part of a US plot to render Muslim women infertile.

The WHO denies the allegations.

Suspension threats

WHO representative in Nigeria Mohammed Belhocine told the BBC he believed the government was fully committed to solving the problem.

He said he was now hopeful the vaccine would be cleared in time for the next round of immunisations, due to start on 23 February.

The announcement by the health ministry comes two weeks after WHO officials met in Geneva to discuss the threat posed by the resurgence of polio in Nigeria, to their goal of globally eradicating the disease by 2005.

Polio has already spread from northern Nigeria to six neighbouring countries.

The WHO warn that unless its spread is checked 15 million children in the region are at risk.

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