Polio was eliminated from the Western Hemisphere in the early 1990s. It was stamped out in Europe a few years later. And now, even the Congo and Somalia are polio free.
But in Africa’s largest oil-producing nation, Nigeria, polio has been a difficult, contentious foe.
A decade ago, Muslim clerics in northern Nigeria dealt a major setback to global polio eradication efforts when they denounced the vaccine as a Western plot to sterilize Muslim children. The result was an explosion of polio, not just in northern Nigeria, but in 20 other countries that previously had been declared polio free.
Since then, international organizations have poured extra resources and hundreds of additional staff into Nigeria to combat the disease. But still, northern Nigeria is the only place in the world where polio cases are increasing: As of Sept. 1, it had recorded 90 polio cases in 2012 — or nearly three times as many as in the same period last year.
Read or listen to JASON BEAUBIEN's NPR story.
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