Daily Video

April 14, 2009

Nigeria Deals With Polio Outbreak

Although health workers in have eliminated the crippling disease polio in most parts of the world, it is still a major problem in Nigeria where poverty and distrust of the vaccines have stalled eradication efforts.

Polio is now endemic in Nigeria even though a course of vaccines can prevent the disease. Officials and health workers say that the politically and economically instable nation has left many Nigerians in poverty, which often leads to the poor hygiene and sanitation issues that led to the spread of polio.

The vaccine has faced opposition in many communities, however, where suspicions about negative side effects American drugs caused some local governments to stop using it.

With help from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and local health workers, the vaccination campaign has begun again, but there are many obstacles associated with inadequate funding and medical resources.

NewsHour correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro talks to vaccine advocates and health workers about efforts to stop the spread of polio in Nigeria.


“I will tell them, “Do you want your son to be like me? Look at me. I am a polio victim. I cannot join police. I cannot join army. I cannot even join football.” – Aminu Ahmed Twada, polio victim

“Even some doctors, even some scholars, some educationists, they believe [rumors about the polio vaccines], so that’s what brings all the problems.” – Ibrahim El Khalid, Islamic Scholar

“It is something that we have to work to explain to make sure that communities understand the value that this is a disease that can be prevented, to actually let them feel this is something that is only a part, and that in the medium to longer term we need to rebuild primary health care system so it’s able to deliver not only polio vaccines, but measles vaccines, maternal health services, as well as just basic care package.” – Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate, Nigerian doctor

Warm Up Questions

1. What is a vaccine?

2. Name some diseases that used to be a problem but have been mostly eradicated through vaccination efforts?

3. What is polio?

Discussion Questions

1. What are some of the issues that have led to the revival of polio in Nigeria?

2. Can you name some other diseases that may no longer a problem in the U.S. but are still a problem in other countries?

3. Why would the U.S. Center for Disease Control want to help distribute the vaccine in Nigeria?

4. Can you understand why some Nigerians might be suspicious of drugs distributed by Americans? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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