Thursday, May 27, 2004

Kano Will Vaccinate Against Polio

What else can I say other than "It's about bloody time!" This irresponsible cretin has already cost many children in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa their futures, all to score a few cheap political points against an impotent president.

BUJA, Nigeria, May 26 - Ibrahim Shekarau, the Kano state governor whose eight-month moratorium on polio vaccinations has been blamed for the spread of polio widely across Africa, said in an interview on Tuesday that he was ready to resume immunizations.

The suspension was prompted by claims, led by Muslim clerics and political leaders, that the polio vaccine contained a hormone that could lead to infertility. The World Health Organization has said tests show no scientific basis for such a charge.

[............]

The 2003 Demographic and Health Survey, released Monday in the capital, Abuja, shows that only 13 percent of Nigerian children receive all basic vaccinations, the lowest rate of any African country studied.

Under pressure from both inside and outside Kano, a volatile, largely Muslim northern state, Mr. Shekarau has been meeting all week with political and religious leaders to assure them that the state has found a safe source of vaccine.

No announcement has yet been made on when and how polio immunizations would start.

But in an interview in Kano on Tuesday, Mr. Shekarau said a team of health experts and religious scholars sent to visit a vaccine manufacturer in Indonesia had returned home satisfied. The next step, he said, would be to report the team's findings to the central government and join the next nationwide immunization campaign.

"We've now discovered a source of safe vaccine," he said in his office. "We will soon be on course."

The vaccine produced by the Indonesian company has long been part of Nigeria's vaccine supply. Mr. Shekarau said other producers might also prove trustworthy. "We've now discovered that the product in Indonesia is quite safe," he said. "It's very likely we may discover the one in France, in Belgium, in Italy are equally safe." (emphasis added)

Well what do you know? The miraculous Indonesian vaccine Shekarau's willing to place his trust in has been part of Nigeria's vaccine supply all along! This only goes to show how deeply cynical the entire campaign's been from the start - he doesn't want to lose face by admitting that there never was anything wrong with the vaccines to begin with, so he's going to use the "we'll trust the Muslim-supplied stuff" gambit to avoid embarassment.

Obasanjo's failure to do anything about this man, who has not only instigated a catastrophic delay in polio eradication, but has also overseen wild anti-Christian pogroms in his state within the last two weeks alone, is all the more shameful in that he was so quick to initiate a constitutionally dubious sacking of Plateau State's governor for his supposed failings in containing violence. Religiously-motivated mayhem has been running unchecked in Kano, Bauchi and elsewhere in the predominantly Muslim parts of Nigeria for some three years now without Obasanjo ever finding the cojones to say or do anything meaningful about it.