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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Nigeria finds 'safe' polio jab
Women wait to have their children immunised
The "catch-up" vaccination drive could be launched next week
The northern Nigerian state of Kano says it has obtained a "safe" polio vaccine from Indonesia.

But Kano government spokesman Sule Yau Sule told BBC News Online the vaccine would be tested further before it is given to children.

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.

Northern Nigeria accounts for almost half of new cases worldwide.

Three other states, Niger and Bauchi and Zamfara, also refused to administer the drugs.

But following appeals from President Olusegun Obasanjo and some northern leaders that there was no cause for alarm, they joined the immunisation campaign.

Kano state had continued to insist that the vaccines' safety could not be guaranteed and had refused to take part in the campaign.

But the state is now prepared to embrace the campaign with the Indonesian drugs.

"If the outcome of the tests is positive, the vaccination campaign will start immediately, as we have been left behind," Mr Sule said.

He said he expected the test results to be announced next week.


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

Polio has already radiated out from the northern Nigeria to infect people in at least seven West and Central African states.

The UN's World Health Organisation (WHO) - which has denied the Muslim clerics' claims - is to discuss polio at its week-long assembly held in Geneva this week.

The WHO is likely to reassess its chances of eradicating polio worldwide by the end of the year following Kano's boycott of its vaccination programme.

Nigeria's Health Minister, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, told a meeting of health ministers from the world's six remaining polio-endemic countries in Geneva that the Nigerian government was ready to help Kano "catch up" with its immunisation campaign.

"This month, an understanding was reached and signed between Kano state government and federal authorities on the required conditions for re-starting the polio immunisation activities in Kano," he said.

"As these conditions are now being met, we have made preparations to support full catch-up immunisation campaigns in Kano, ahead of the nation-wide activities in September, October and November."

Nigerian hopes on polio campaign
30 Jan 04  |  Africa
WHO moves to calm polio fears
20 Jan 04  |  Africa
WHO adopts new polio strategy
13 May 03  |  Health

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