Nigerian State To Resume Polio Vaccination After 8-Month Boycott Due to Rumors of HIV Contamination
The northern Nigerian state of Kano said on Tuesday that it would end its eight-month boycott of polio vaccinations after tests showed that the vaccines were not contaminated with HIV, Reuters reports (Reuters, 7/19). The state had stopped its polio immunizations amid rumors that the vaccines were part of a U.S.-sponsored plan to spread HIV and infertility among Muslims. The state has been the epicenter of a polio outbreak since it refused to allow the inoculations in October 2003. 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, 5/19). Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau said he was "satisfied" with tests carried out on imported vaccines from Indonesia. "Our government has accepted the report from the experts," Shekarau said, adding, "We are satisfied with the report and have directed the commencement of the polio vaccination in the state. There was nothing religious or political in our argument." Kano had been under local and international pressure to reinstate the vaccinations after its ban led to the spread of polio across Nigeria and into 10 other countries that had eradicated the virus, according to Reuters. World Health Organization officials said that the re-emergence of polio in countries that had previously eradicated the virus has been a major setback to the organization's campaign to eliminate polio by the end of 2005 (Reuters, 7/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.