What Led to the Nigerian Boycott of the Polio Vaccination Campaign?
Public trust is essential in promoting public health. Such trust plays an important role in the public's compliance with public health interventions, especially compliance with vaccination programs, which target mainly healthy people. Where public trust is eroded, rumours can spread and this can lead to rejection of health interventions.
In northern Nigeria in 2003, the political and religious leaders of Kano, Zamfara, and Kaduna states brought the immunization campaign to a halt by calling on parents not to allow their children to be immunized. These leaders argued that the vaccine could be contaminated with anti-fertility agents (estradiol hormone), HIV, and cancerous agents.
In an article reported by News24.com, a South African online news Web site, Sule Ya'u Sule, speaking for the governor of Kano, is quoted as saying: “Since September 11, the Muslim world is beginning to be suspicious of any move from the Western world…Our people have become really concerned about polio vaccine”. In the same article, Datti Ahmed, a Kano-based physician who heads a prominent Muslim group, the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN), is quoted as saying that polio vaccines were “corrupted and tainted by evildoers from America and their Western allies.” Ahmed went on to say: “We believe that modern-day Hitlers have deliberately adulterated the oral polio vaccines with anti-fertility drugs and…viruses which are known to cause HIV and AIDS”.
The New York Sun reported that this fear of polio vaccines in northern Nigeria “caught on because of the war in Iraq”. Ali Guda Takai, a WHO doctor investigating polio cases in Kano, told the Baltimore Sun, “What is happening in the Middle East has aggravated the situation. If America is fighting people in the Middle East, the conclusion is that they are fighting Muslims”.
Embarrassed by the political undertone of the boycott, the prominent Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, President of the International Fiqh Council, said: “In fact, I was completely astonished about the attitude of our fellow scholars of Kano towards polio vaccine. I disapprove of their opinion, for the lawfulness of such vaccine in the point of view of Islam is as clear as sunlight”. Sheikh Qaradawi said that the same polio vaccine has been effective in over 50 Muslim countries, and blamed the SCSN for creating a negative image of Islam: “They distort the image of Islam and make it appear as if it contradicts science and medical progress”.
An important factor that played a role in the polio vaccine boycott was the general distrust of aggressive, mass immunization programs in a country where access to basic health care is not easily available. In his report for the Baltimore Sun, John Murphy wrote: “The aggressive door-to-door mass immunizations that have slashed polio infections around the world also raise suspicions. From a Nigerian's perspective, to be offered free medicine is about as unusual as a stranger's going door to door in America and handing over $100 bills. It does not make any sense in a country where people struggle to obtain the most basic medicines and treatment at local clinics”.
The religious leaders in northern states who boycotted the polio immunization campaign believed that the southern-led federal government was acting in the interests of Western powers. The northern and southern parts of the country had different colonial experiences. While the north was colonized by the Islamic Jihadists, the south was colonized by the British. These colonial experiences are responsible for political differences between north and south and different attitudes to modern medicine.
Suspicions about Western health interventions were already circulating in northern Nigeria, ahead of the polio vaccination boycott, in the wake of Pfizer's 1996 “Trovan trial”. The trial was discussed in detail in a BMJ feature entitled “Pfizer accused of testing new drug without ethical approval”.
In brief, the BMJ reports that in 1996 Pfizer sent a team to Kano during an epidemic of meningococcal meningitis. To test the efficacy of its new antibiotic trovafloxacin (Trovan), the team conducted an open-label trial in 200 children—half were given the gold standard treatment for meningitis, ceftriaxone, and half received trovafloxacin. Five of the children given trovafloxacin died, together with six who were given ceftriaxone. The BMJ reported: “The Washington Post has been investigating the trial and alleges that at least one child was not taken off the experimental drug and given the standard drug when it was clear that her condition was not improving—which is against ethical guidelines.” The BMJ reported that the Nigerian health minister appointed a federal investigative panel to determine whether the trial was conducted legally, and if so, whether it was morally right.
Along one side the West wants a puppet government in Syria and delivers constantly weapons to the terrorists and opposition fighting the Syrian government.
On the other hand, it makes publicity for its 'Global Poverty Project' by advertising mass vaccination campaigns simultaneously in Syria and other countries (Iraq, Pakistan,).
That's pure hypocrisy because polio is a result of a lack of hygienic conditions (water, food).
It is therefore that the Syrian Health Minister, Dr. Saad al-Nayef, has requested the International Concerned organizations to demand the economic embargo on Syria lifted as it targets the health, food and medicine of the Syrian children.
Let us wait and see if Western organizations and government leaders dare to be honest...
As a reminder:
A Libyan cargo plane carrying humanitarian aid and medical consignment including polio vaccines, arrived in Cotonou, Benin, late Sunday as part of a medical campaign.
The campaign was launched by the Qadhafi Project for African Women, Children and Youth targeting 12 countries in the African continent.
The management committee of the Project, named after Libyan leader Col. Moammar Kadhafi who initiated it, had decided last December to undertake massive medical campaigns and to immunize children against polio and measles in several African countries.
Official sources said the shipment comprised 15,000 doses of vaccines, a sizeable quantity of medicines, mainly antibiotics, food supplies, tents, blankets, clothes and footwear for children and women.
In the entourage are 40 doctors specialised in different fields, and volunteers drawn from the national Youth Volunteer Service Commission and the youth league as well as NGOs and Libyan scouts.
The first medical campaign by the Project was held in Chad on 15 January.
During such campaigns, doctors conduct medical consultations and surgeries as well as health surveys targeting women and children.
Countries targeted by the Project include Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Benin, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia and Burkina Faso.
The Project, with its headquarters in Tripoli, inaugurated on 31 December 2005, but started its actual work in 2006. It seeks to mobilise efforts and resources in favour of the youth, children and women in Africa.
As a reminder:
Despite difficulties, polio immunization drive underway in Iraq
GENEVA, NEW YORK, AMMAN, 14 November 2006 - A national polio immunization drive to protect 4.8 million Iraqi children was launched by the Iraqi Ministry of Health. The campaign was delayed for a week because of security concerns across parts of the country.
Over the next five days, over 5400 mobile vaccinators will travel house-to-house across Iraq to immunize every child under five against polio. The campaign will help to maintain Iraq’s polio-free status, a public health triumph for children won through several successful immunization drives such as this latest one. Iraq’s last polio case was reported in 2000.
UNICEF is providing oral polio vaccines (OPV) for the campaign, as well as transport and communication support to help vaccinators reach children even in Iraq’s most remote and insecure areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also provided vital assistance to the Iraqi government for planning the campaigns, training local health staff and providing incentives for vaccinators.
This is Iraq’s second polio campaign of 2006. The first campaign was held in April/May and immunized over 96per cent of the target population. The second round of the current campaign will take place in December.
Polio is a highly infectious and incurable disease that can cause lifelong paralysis. Most of its victims are children under five years old. Although polio has been driven from Iraq, a recent global resurgence of the virus has brought a renewed threat to the region. Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Sudan have all been re-infected since 2004, making this week’s campaign critical to safeguard Iraq’s children.
UNICEF and WHO commend the Iraqi Ministry of Health, and in particular the vaccinators themselves, for their great commitment to ensure the success of the current campaigns. The UN Agencies are calling on everyone in Iraq to facilitate the vaccination effort.
Iraq is part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the world’s largest public health drive spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF.
November 1, 2012
Here at the Global Poverty Project, we’re often asked why we campaign on polio. For those new to the issue, the link between polio and poverty is not immediately obvious.
But the truth is, poverty and polio are inextricably linked. On the one hand, those living in extreme poverty are far more likely to contract polio. On the other, being paralysed by polio can prevent a child from rising out of poverty.
Why is this the case? Just take a look at the areas affected by polio – these are places where issues such as poor water and sanitation, inadequate nutrition and a lack of access to even the most basic health care services can combine to create the perfect conditions for communicable diseases like polio to spread.
Meanwhile, contracting polio can cast a cloud over a child’s future. In some places, the lack of physiotherapy, mobility aids, disabled access and even the stigma of the disease can prevent a polio-affected child from finishing school, getting a job or even getting married. Instead of being able to contribute to the productivity and wellbeing of their family and greater community, they can end up falling deeper into poverty.
This is what the This global effort to end polio is all about – reaching the children who would normally miss out on the vaccine and ensuring they are protected against polio. Whilst doing that, we are also developing the tools and tactics to reach them with food, clean water and other health services. But most of all, we can wipe out this disease forever, ensuring that no child will ever again be dragged into poverty because of this easily preventable disease.
The Western countries which do not respect the right to self-determination of the Syrian people, are responsible for the weapons deliveries to the so-called rebels in Syria.
The infrastructure of the country is systematically destroyed by the foreign backed war against the Syrian government. People becomes unemployed or fall into poverty. They can not afford medical care for themselves and their children.
1) Obama signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for Syrian terrorists seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government. Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the terrorists oust Assad. C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey. The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The United States is setting up joint military, intelligence and medical working teams with Israel, Turkey and Jordan.
2) British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would step up its support for the armed groups in Syria, providing them with an additional £5 million (US$7.8 million). The money is used for terrorist bomb attacks and the undermining of Syria's government.
3) An official source told a SANA reporter that the seized arms included Nato sniper rifles, machineguns, hunting rifles, explosive devices of various weights, devices for remote control detonation and an amount of batteries and electrical wires.
4) The Belgian State Security "has not confirmed" the rumor that Belgian jihadists are fighting in Syria. The newspapers 'Het Belang van Limburg' and 'Gazet van Antwerpen' argued the opposite: "The State Security confirmed the presence of Belgian terrorists in Syria". Originally the Flemish newspapers relied on a report by Reuters, dated July 31th 2012, citing statements from "several rebel commanders in the north-west Syria," according to which "Muslims in Great Britain, Belgium and the United States had joined the Free Syrian Army (SLA)". On July 13th, Reuters pointed out a flood "of thousands of assault rifles Belgian FN FAL was in the hands of the rebels". In its annual reports, the Belgian State Security explains how and why she follows people attracted by fighting abroad: there was attention for Iraq, then, from 2010, to the movement towards Pakistan-Afghanistan border area; Finally, most recently, to new locations: "If the Afghan-Pakistan area, more than Iraq, was still popular in 2010 with the majority of volunteers for jihad", the Belgian State Security wrote in his latest report, "some of them began to plot their way to Yemen, Somalia and the Caucasus". And Syria now? "Obviously. Where they are beaten, those who return and who actually participated in the fighting have gained knowledge on how to handle weapons, strategy and tactics of war," noted the Belgian State Security yesterday. "This is the central reason for the Belgian concern". Belgian Senator Nele Lijnen said that she intends to launch a discussion at the Belgian Senate regarding the fact that the terrorists in Syria possess weapons made in Belgium.
5) The Swiss Authorities announced that they are investigating into information published by Sonntags Zeitung newspaper about hand grenades used by armed terrorist groups in Syria.
6) The weapons and military equipment recently discovered and seized by the Syrian Army in Idlib province proves NATO's arms and logistic support for terrorists in Syria.
7) The seized weapons in Salqain district in Idlib included 7.26 guns along with other weapons as well as boxes of gunshots with the words "NATO BALL" carved on them.
8) The Lebanese army intelligence has seized a large quantity of wea Lutfallah II container pons hidden inside cars aboard an Italian ship at Tripoli port, north of Lebanon, Lebanese security sources told Al-Manar TV.
9) This comes just days after the Lebanese Army Marines confiscated Lutfallah II arms shipment off the Lebanese port of Batoun while it was carrying 300,000 pounds of weapons within three containers. Reports said the cargo ship, which was flying the flag of Sierra-Leone, had left Libya and was bound to Syria.
10) Lebanese terrorist Mohammad Hussein Fares confessed to participating in smuggling weapons, militants and journalists into Syria and committing terrorists acts against Syrians. Fares said that they smuggled assault rifles, RPG rounds, sniper rifles, LAW missiles, machineguns and cases of ammo, delivering them to Amoun, with al-Jarban coming later to distribute them among terrorists.
11) US, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are arming AL-QAEDA Terrorists to commit Terrorism in Syria
12) Over 30,000 various weapons have been channelled to Syria since unrest flared up there in April last year, Amin Khteit says. The overall amount of explosives makes up 300 tons. The deliveries were made by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They depend on the United States, which is making every effort to overpower Syria.
13) The authorities seized weapons smuggled from Turkey in Tal Abyad area on the Syrian-Turkish borders in Raqqa countryside.
14) A Turkish parliamentarian has stressed that Turkish ambulances are transporting weapons to terrorist groups in Syria, expressing their opposition to Ankara's policies on the Syrian case.
15) Western News item - August 9, 2012: Sarkozy urges Libyan scenario in Syria. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the spearhead of last year’s campaign to oust Muammar Gaddafi, has called for rapid international action on Syria, comparing the current crisis with the situation in Libya. Sarkozy has spoken with the Syrian opposition leader, Abdulbaset Sieda, and both agreed there is a need for foreign intervention in Syria in order to stop the ongoing crisis, Reuters reports.
(Syria was a French Colony from 1918 to 1944)
16) Western News item - August 11, 2012: US and Turkey to consider no-fly zones for Syria - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are considering implementing no-fly zones for Syria after holding Saturday talks in Istanbul. According to Reuters, Clinton said that Ankara and Washington need to plan ways to assist the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad – including possibly implementing a no-fly zone.
(Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th through 20th centuries)
17) Western News item - September 6, 2012: France has embarked on providing direct financial and arms aid to insurgent-held areas of Syria and is even supplying anti-aircraft weapons to terrorists fighting Syrian Army forces. France has vowed an extra 5 million euros ($6.25 million) to help Syrian armed groups. France is considering supplying heavy artillery to the Syrian rebels. ( On November 15, 2012, France said 'it would float giving rebels defensive weapons' but in September 2012 it was already weapening anti-Syria-government groups. It is thus clear that the French government misleads the French people. Syria was a French Colony from 1918 to 1944...)
18) Western News item - November 13, 2012: France became the first European power to recognize Syria's new opposition coalition as the sole representative of its people and said it would look into arming rebels against President Bashar al-Assad once they form a government.
(Syria was a French Colony from 1918 to 1944)
19) Western News item - November 21, 2012: UK joins France in supporting Syrian rebel coalition - British Foreign Secretary William Hague told members of parliament Tuesday that the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was the "sole legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, calling it a "credible" alternative to al-Assad.
20) Western News item - November 28, 2012: NATO General-Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that NATO allies will respond positively to Turkey’s demand for Patriot missiles within “days” and that command of the system will be under NATO control.
“Russia has no right to intervene in this process. This is a NATO decision; third parties have nothing to say,” Rasmussen said about Russian objections to the deployment.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli echoed Kılıçdaroğlu and calling on the government to inform Parliament on the missiles. “We wonder why Prime Minister Erdoğan abruptly requested Patriot missiles from NATO. Have Syrian missiles been directed to Turkey?
(Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th through 20th centuries. After the division of Rome into the Eastern and Western empires in the 4th century, Syria came under Byzantine rule. By the late 11th century, the Seljuk Turks had captured most of Syria)
Polio can be transmitted by ingesting contaminated water and food. It is because of these circumstances that people who live in communities with poor hygiene and sanitation conditions are most at risk of contracting polio: