Mary F. Calvert
"POLIO'S LINE IN THE SAND"
Brothers, left, Nura, 21, and far right, Aminu, 22, watch their brother Mujahid Abdullahi, 9, receive light treatment for his legs crippled with polio. Middle, Sani Musa holds his three year old daughter Zaniab who contracted polio after her mother refused vaccinations for the child. Families bring their children crippled by polio to the Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital in Kano, Nigeria to receive light treatment. Families pay 100 Naira, about forty cents for 15 minutes under heat lamps.
Religious zealotry and misinformation have coerced villagers in the Muslim north of Nigeria into refusing polio vaccinations and led to the reemergence of polio only a few years after it nearly joined smallpox on the IDC’s list of eradicated diseases. The polio vaccine was banned in northern Nigeria in the summer of 2003 due to claims by clerics and politicians that the vaccines were tainted and were a Western ploy to spread HIV and make the Muslim girls sterile. During the one year ban, over 3000 children were crippled by polio and over 20 countries re-infected with the Nigeria strain of the virus.