UNICEF correspondent Nina Martinek reports on a four-day polio immunization drive in Nigeria.
Polio Immunization for Children in Nigeria Nina Martinek: Khadijad is two years old and lives with her father in the village of Ajingi, Nigeria. Like many parents in this area, her father was reluctant at first to have his child vaccinated. The Health Commissioner for Kano State personally visited their home and many others to inform and to encourage parents to comply. After learning that the vaccine could save Khadijad’s life, her father allowed his daughter to be immunized. Hajiya A’isha Kiru: But sometimes, it’s a matter of persuasion, even have to have those that vaccinated will have to have the skills of persuasion. Nina Martinek: In a massive UNICEF supported campaign, more than 45 million children under five were immunized against polio in Nigeria over the course of four days. The goal is to reach 85 million children in total and to eradicate the disease from the nation. Trained teams were equipped with special ice carriers to keep the vaccines cool in the high temperatures. They were able to reach remote areas of the country. As well as fixed immunization posts, thousands of vaccination teams went house-to-house and also visited public places, such as churches, mosques and markets. Records were taken of the vaccinated children and their fingernails and homes were marked. Hajiya A’isha Kiru: We have to continue what we are doing and do even more to be able to maintain the success and spend at least three years without having one child come down with the polio virus. Nina Martinek: A major part of the strategy is to encourage traditional leaders to become involved in the process. Alh Wada Mohamed Aliya: We also have to be ready to double our efforts, to work together hand-in-hand and maintain and retain our achievements. Nina Martinek: Nigeria is making steady progress towards eradicating polio, but the key is a continued routine immunization regime. Now, for children like Khadijad there is hope for a healthy future. This is Nina Martinek reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for Children.