Northern Nigerian State Agrees To Resume Polio Vaccinations After Rumors of HIV Contamination
The northern Nigerian state of Kano has agreed in principle to allow the World Health Organization to resume its polio immunization campaign, which had been stopped amid rumors that the vaccines were part of a U.S.-sponsored plan to spread HIV and infertility among Muslims, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. The state has been the "global epicenter" of a polio epidemic since it refused to allow the innoculations in October 2003, according to the AP/Newsday (McKenzie, AP/Long Island Newsday, 5/17). The Nigerian government in February sent state and religious representatives to South Africa, Indonesia and India to observe testing of the polio vaccine and bring back proof that it is not contaminated with HIV. In an attempt to ease Muslim Nigerians' fears that the vaccines are contaminated with HIV and a form of a female hormone, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in March announced the results of the tests, saying that the vaccines were safe (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/19). "The minister of health for Nigeria has told us that he believes by Friday the impasse will be resolved," David Heymann, head of the WHO polio campaign, said on Monday in Geneva (Cox/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/18). Kano plans to import the polio vaccines from a company in Indonesia, according to Kano government spokesperson Sule Ya'u Sule (AP/Omaha World-Herald, 5/18). "We are not importing from Indonesia because it is a Muslim country, but because the vaccines they are producing contain safe levels of estrogen," he added (Reuters, 5/17). African health ministers meeting in Geneva at the World Health Assembly -- the annual meeting of the WHO governing body -- on Monday agreed on a plan to immunize 74 million children in 21 countries. Nigeria now has the highest number of polio cases in the world, with 119 confirmed cases, according to the AP/Omaha World-Herald (AP/Omaha World-Herald, 5/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.