John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Showing posts for "Polio"

Health Services Collapse in Northeast Nigeria

by John Campbell
Volunteer Health officials wait to immunise children at a school in Nigeria's capital Abuja February 1, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Volunteer Health officials wait to immunise children at a school in Nigeria's capital Abuja February 1, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Recently an Agence France Press (AFP) article reported that health services have collapsed in Borno state in northeast Nigeria due to the onslaught of “Boko Haram.” AFP reports that hospitals and clinics have been attacked, and medical personnel kidnapped either for ransom or to treat wounded Boko Haram fighters. AFP also reports that Boko Haram has been carrying out attacks on pharmacies–usually Christian-owned–for looting and destruction. Read more »

Polio in Nigeria: Progress and Continued Obstacles

by John Campbell
Arnaud Bivilia, 12, who suffers from polio, stands at the Stand Proud compound in Kinshasa November 29, 2011. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters) Arnaud Bivilia, 12, who suffers from polio, stands at the Stand Proud compound in Kinshasa November 29, 2011. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

Polio numbers in Nigeria for 2013 are likely to be less than they were in 2012. Given the turmoil in northeastern Nigeria associated with the Boko Haram insurrection, this would seem to indicate real progress for the polio eradication program despite the insecurity of the region that the program operates in. However, the security situation in Nigeria, and elsewhere where polio is found, political, and religious obstacles continue to impede the eradication of the disease. Read more »

Polio in Nigeria and Somalia

by John Campbell
A Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) worker ushers newly arrived Somali refugees before they are administered polio vaccine at the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border August 1, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) worker ushers newly arrived Somali refugees before they are administered polio vaccine at the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border August 1, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

It is hard to imagine a more devastating tragedy for a child in the developing world than to be crippled for life by polio. Given the success of the international vaccination effort, it is also increasingly unnecessary.

However in 2012 Nigeria recorded 122 new cases of polio. Nigeria had been one of only three countries where the disease was still endemic (the other two were Afghanistan and Pakistan). But now Nigeria is joined by another African country – Somalia. Eunice Kilonzo in The East African reports 191 polio infections in Somalia. The media is also reporting small outbreaks elsewhere in east Africa, often associated with Somali refugee movements. Read more »

Polio is Back in the Horn of Africa

by John Campbell
A newly arrived Somali refugee child receives a polio drop at the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, August 1, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A newly arrived Somali refugee child receives a polio drop at the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, August 1, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported the new presence of wild polio virus type 1 (WPV1) in the Banadir region of Somalia. The initial victim was a thirty-two month old girl. By the end of May, there were four polio cases in Somalia. The WHO has also announced a confirmed case of polio at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest, housing 424,000 people from central Africa and the horn, close to the border of Somalia. This is Kenya’s first polio outbreak in two years. Read more »

Polio and Measles in Nigeria

by John Campbell
Local health workers carry vaccination kits at a distribution centre ahead of the start of a nationwide polio immunization campaign on Wednesday, in Lagos February 21, 2011. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Local health workers carry vaccination kits at a distribution centre ahead of the start of a nationwide polio immunization campaign on Wednesday, in Lagos February 21, 2011. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Vaccination against polio and measles is opposed by many conservative Islamic elements in northern Nigeria. A consequence is that polio remains endemic; there were 122 cases in 2012, over half of the global total. A measles outbreak in northern Nigeria earlier this year killed thirty-six children and infected over 4,000 between February 16 and March 9. Health officials say this is a direct result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children. While popular opposition to vaccination has many roots, they are primarily political and social in nature. Read more »

Murder of Medical Personnel Sets Back Polio Immunization in Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
A health worker immunises a four-year-old boy at Ilashe island, 25 km (15 miles) from the Nigerian capital Lagos, May 16, 2005. Nigeria has launched the third round of the National Immunization Campaigns this year in hopes of eradicating polio. George Esiri/Courtesy REUTERS A health worker immunises a four-year-old boy at Ilashe island, 25 km (15 miles) from the Nigerian capital Lagos, May 16, 2005. Nigeria has launched the third round of the National Immunization Campaigns this year in hopes of eradicating polio. George Esiri/Courtesy REUTERS

On February 8, unidentified gunmen killed four health workers at a site in Kano state and injured three others, according to the media.  In what may have been part of a coordinated attack, at about the same time a separate set of gunmen killed an additional five health workers at another site. The health workers were all involved in a polio vaccination campaign. In a third incident in the same time frame, gunmen killed three foreign medical doctors in Yobe state. One physician was beheaded, and all three had machete wounds. The three medical doctors were identified as North Koreans living in Yobe as part of a state-sponsored technical exchange. Press reports do not indicate whether the three were also involved in the polio immunization campaign. In the aftermath of these killings, the inspector general of police has ordered “special security” for those involved in the polio immunization campaign. Read more »

Disease Cannot Be Contained on One Continent

by John Campbell
A doctor works in a laboratory on collected samples of the Ebola virus at the Centre for Disease Control in Entebbe 02/08/2012. (Edward Echwalu/Courtesy Reuters) A doctor works in a laboratory on collected samples of the Ebola virus at the Centre for Disease Control in Entebbe 02/08/2012. (Edward Echwalu/Courtesy Reuters)

There is a yellow fever epidemic in Sudan, characterized by the press as the world’s worst in twenty years. The international community is assisting with vaccinations and laboratory support. With many Chinese nationals now working in Sudan, Beijing has ordered local health authorities to scan travelers arriving from Sudan for fevers, and is urging Chinese travelers en route to Sudan to be vaccinated. Read more »

Polio in Nigeria

by John Campbell
Volunteer Health officials wait to immunise children at a school in Nigeria's capital Abuja February 1, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Volunteer Health officials wait to immunise children at a school in Nigeria's capital Abuja February 1, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) reports eight new polio cases in Nigeria, bringing the total in that country to seventy for 2012. As with previously reported cases this year, these are all to be found in predominately Muslim northern Nigeria, in areas affected by Boko Haram. Read more »