During the quest of learning the journalism profession, health issues are among beats I enjoyed doing after the South Africa trip I dwell some much on health and polio was among issues disturbing this blogger
I always ask why the north is yet to tackle polio, where does this problem lays? How can I help? Why are parent against this vaccine and I decided to seek the why
Some years ago four countries across the globe were identified as battling to eradicate one disease. Like what condition the disease brought upon them, the countries bore the acronym PAIN- Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria. But when India finally stamped out the disease just about a year ago, the PAIN became PAN leaving Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
For decades, Poliomyelitis which is commonplace in tropical sub-Saharan countries has been a killer of young children between the ages of 0-5 years.
The campaign to bring an end to the malady in Nigeria has seen collaborations stretching backward in years involving the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other international agencies. Despite the seemingly vast efforts, the country is yet to effectively tackle the disease.
Polio as it is more commonly termed, is the fastest killer disease cutting short the promising lives of young children in Nigeria by paralyzing either both or one of the legs.
In October 2011, tracking the immunization campaign got this blogger en route some local governments within Kano state along with a team of experts and government officials on polio eradication as part of a primary health development enterprise. Gezawa, Ungogo, and Kumbotso were the places visited. Even though yours truly is a daughter of the city, a whole new dimension awaited as the venture provided me with a whole new definition after the encounter with had with the people who live in the rural areas.
It was a mixed bag of an adventure for me as I got to learn albeit disappointedly that even as modern civilization and technology transfer has made information reach hitherto uncharted corners of the world through the commonest medium which is the radio set, some parents deliberately refuse to let their children to be immunized even as they only stand to benefit.
A fine reflection of the larger picture is that of Bashir Aliyu, a child of 3. He lays restless on his mat in his mother’s room in Unguwar Gabas, crying in anguish, entreating with his every body language for some sort of comforting gesture from the mother.
Her name is Malama Usaina, mother to four more of Aliyu’s siblings living together in Unguwar Gabas, Gezawa local government area. She was busy when I entered the house, as her posture suggested, sitting in front of a big pot making local spices out of locust beans (daddawa); the trade from which she earns a living.
In my interaction with her after sympathizing with her about her son, I sought to know why in the face of the widespread campaign, she let her baby get affected polio? This is what she said to me: “My baby was given vaccination in every round of the mobilization exercises yet he is paralyzed with the disease.”
I was dumbstruck. How could this happen if at all he received the vaccine as she claimed?!
This makes me speaks to the state person on immunization in Kano state, Abdurrahman yakubu on the issue , he said polio is yet to tackle in Kano either because the problem is with the vaccination officials, or there are not friendly to the receiving party
As of the case of Bashir Ali he said the vaccination his mother claimed to have been vaccinated is questionable either he was affected before the vaccination or the mother is hiding the baby is not vaccinated at any cost
In my adventure I met Aisha Ali is a supervisor at the state level she shares her experience with the polio exercises as a hectic activity, while the community shout and say words to them
Nigeria is among the countries that records high number of polio disease and Kano state the prone areas, not only that the community shun away from the immunization
The campaigns conducted have come a long way as district heads, ward heads as well as Islamic clerics also give their share in convincing the community to accept the immunization
Another interesting person I met was Abdullahi the focal officer of Gezawa also
“Says women at home refuse or neglect to give out their children or even hide them as missing child”
This non compliance and missing children keeps me wandering and confused for a long time in the exercise I then latter realize the missing children as these mother in most cases goes out with them either to the clinic in the area or even to places for different purpose yet the vaccinator mark them as missing children, while the non complaisance I latter realize as those mother that refuse to give out their children after so many times of allowing the immunization on their children
But the saddest memory that will forever lingers in my mind is for the case of Bashir Aliyu his live will remain crippling and a lesson for parent to immunize their children for a better tomorrow