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Extremists Make Fighting Polio Difficult

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Boko Haram extremists in Nigeria have made it too dangerous for health workers to vaccinate against polio, reports state.

Families that have fled to displacement camps have sought shelter from the terror group, and health teams are going from to tent to tent in order to inoculate children against the dangerous and deadly disease, ABC News reports.

Some mothers were hesitant to let foreign workers vaccinate their kids, but were eventually persuaded that it was in the children’s best interests. Infants can get their vaccination shots as early as the day they are born.

The fight against polio is another glaring example of how the Nigeria-based Islam extremist group has disrupted life in the northeastern part of the country, leaving many kids vulnerable to a disease that can be easily prevented.

Almai Some, the field coordinator in Borno state for the vaccination campaign run by Rotary said,

When such children come to the camps or host communities they become a threat to other children.

Some of the families fleeing to refugee camps are from regions where the poli vaccine has been unable to get to for as long as six years. Nigeria is one of three countries where polio is endemic and has not yet been eradicated, along with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The final step to eliminate the debilitating disease is “proving to be extraordinarily difficult” because “the poliovirus is surviving despite all the good work and in the face of everything that is being thrown at it,” according to a monitoring group appointed by the World Health Organization.

Nigeria has faced several outbreaks in last year alone, including cholera, hepatitis, yellow fever, monkeypox, and Lassa, showing the challenges the country’s healthcare system faces.

The WHO declared Nigeria polio-free in September 2015, but in 2016, fresh cases broke out in three separate locations in Borno. So far, there have been none reported this year.

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