“That is why I got polio”

Nigerian polio survivors share their stories with reluctant parents

2013092_NigeranPolioSurvivors

One of Ms Usman’s fellow polio survivors, Fatima Aliyu, vaccinates a child against polio in Nigeria’s Sokoto State.
UNICEF

2 September 2013 – Karima Usman, a 38-year-old Nigerian mother of three, is on a mission to convince every parent she meets to vaccinate their children against polio.

“No one used to go house to house giving OPV [oral polio vaccine] when I was small,” she explains. “That is why I got polio. Now, OPV is available – but some parents are not letting children take it.”

While operational issues remain by far the biggest reason for children missing out on the polio vaccine, a sizeable number of parents continue to refuse to let their children be vaccinated, despite the fact that OPV has prevented more than 10 million cases of polio globally.

Karima Usman is just one of hundreds of members of the Polio Survivor Group who have been recruited to share their experiences with reluctant parents. With 43 confirmed cases of polio so far in 2013, a drop of 25 per cent from the same period last year, Nigeria is the only remaining polio-endemic country in Africa.

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