Rotarians help reignite Nigeria’s end-polio effort

  • Nigeria PolioPlus Committee Chair Busuyi Onabolu (second from left) and District 9120 PolioPlus Subcommittee Chair Godwin Atiah (far left) join state health officials in Kano for the ceremony officially launching the country’s Immunization Plus Days.
  • Rotarians in Nigeria are playing a key role in their country’s revitalized battle to become polio-free, including helping to overcome resistance from families who are against having their children immunized.
  • During Immunization Plus Days (IPDs) held 31 January-3 February, a community in Nasarawa State initially refused vaccination efforts because the government hadn’t removed garbage from a local dump.
  • “In order to get the kids immunized, I promised to clear the site personally, if they allowed us to carry out the immunization, and they agreed,” said Chuks Anthony Anyigbo, a member of the Rotary Club of Lafia City. “I partnered with the state urban development board, [and] they gave me a truck with a few staff. I paid for logistics and laborers, then mobilized some Rotarians and youth to clear the site.” When families in a group of settlements in Katsina State opposed immunization, Rotarians immediately helped conduct a community dialogue. Residents said they would not allow their children to receive the oral polio vaccine because other pressing needs — health care, clean water, and education — weren’t being met. Local officials addressed these issues at a subsequent meeting, resulting in 120 children being immunized with the residents’ consent. The plan is to reach every child, even in the most rural areas [and] in the most populated urban areas,” says UNICEF spokeswoman Miranda Eeles. “The campaign aims at reaching a critical mass of polio immunization coverage in order to stop the spread of the wild poliovirus.”
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