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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 08:42 GMT
Nigeria polio jab row rages on
A Nigerian baby receives the vaccine
Kano officials are still not happy with the vaccine
Nigeria's northern state of Kano has still to accept a UN-promoted polio vaccine, despite assurances from Nigeria's authorities that it is safe.

Kano opted out of an immunisation campaign last year, when some Islamic leaders said it was part of a western plot to render Muslim women infertile.

On Wednesday an official study into the allegations said it was harmless.

Health experts have warned that the delay in vaccination in Kano has already resulted in new polio cases.

But Kano state governor Ibrahim Shekarau told the BBC he had not yet seen the panel report.

"When it's with us we will subject it to our own analysis," he said.

At issue is a mass immunisation programme supported by the World Health Organization, based on the oral polio vaccine.

With due respect I believe our professionals know better
Sule Yau Sule
Kano government spokesman
The programme targets about 60 million children and centres on northern Nigeria - where half of the world's new polio cases originate.

But the states of Kano and Zamfara have opted out of the programme.

WHO is planning a massive polio immunisation round in West Africa at the end of March and the organisation hopes that all the north will take part.

Alternative

On Wednesday President Olusegun Obasanjo said that a report by experts and Muslim leaders sent by the government to conduct independent tests in South Africa, India and Indonesia "categorically attests to the safety of the oral polio vaccine".

Kano government spokesman Sule Yau Sule appeared to go further than his governor in comments to reporters.

"With due respect I believe our professionals know better," he told the Associated Press news agency.

He said the state governor would still press ahead with plans to procure vaccines from Muslim countries in Asia.

Kano suspended immunisations last year following reports by Muslim clerics that the vaccine was contaminated with an anti-fertility agent.

The WHO has denied the claims.

Polio has already radiated out from northern Nigeria to infect people in at least seven west and central African states.




SEE ALSO:
WHO moves to calm polio fears
20 Jan 04  |  Africa
Polio cases on the increase
25 Apr 03  |  Health
WHO adopts new polio strategy
13 May 03  |  Health


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