The World Health Organization has confirmed a third case of polio in Nigeria, Rotary Club said Monday: a crippled toddler found in an area newly liberated from Boko Haram Islamic extremists.
Nigeria was once was the global epicenter of the wild polio virus had been declared polio-free last year, along with the African continent. But two cases were discovered last month among refugees from areas recently won back by Nigerian military from Boko Haram.
More cases are expected to be discovered in these areas. It is an indicator that Nigeria’s war on polio cannot be won until it overcomes the insurgency by extremists who are violently opposed to Western medicine.
Rotary Club’s field coordinator, Aminu Muhammad, said the new case was found in Monguno local government area. The others were further south in Jere and Gwoza. All are in northern Borno state.
Rotary is part of a new emergency immunization drive that vaccinated more than 1.5 million children last week in Borno, where WHO has said the virus has been circulating undetected for five years and where Boko Haram began its Islamic uprising in 2009.
The campaign is to spread across the country, with a plan to reach 25 million children before the end of the year.
But the U.N. Children’s Fund has warned that about 1 million children are in areas too dangerous to access.
The Nigerian army has helped with the vaccination drive, which included logistics and other aid from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the United Nations and Britain’s Save the Children as well as government health workers. Military helicopters flew vaccines into places too dangerous to reach by road, and truckloads of troops and armored cars escorted vaccinators elsewhere.