"The global effort to eradicate polio has reached a bizarre stage: More people have been gunned down recently over the disease than actually infected with it," NPR's "Shots" blog reports. "On Friday, nine polio vaccinators in northern Nigeria were shot dead and their clinics were torched," the blog writes, adding, "The attack in Nigeria come just on the heels of similar ones in Pakistan, when gunmen killed at least eight people involved in anti-polio campaigns in December." But "[a]s deadly attacks on polio vaccinators are escalating, the number of new polio cases has dropped dramatically," NPR states, noting there were 716 polio cases in 2011, 222 last year, and only one reported so far this year.
"Rumors persist in Pakistan and Nigeria that the polio vaccine is a Western plot by the CIA to sterilize Muslim children," NPR reports, adding that while "no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Kano, Nigeria," the Associated Press reported witnesses believe the radical Islamic group Boko Haram is responsible (Beaubien, 2/12). "Police in northern Nigeria arrested and charged two radio journalists and a local cleric alleged to have sparked the killings of at least nine women gunned down while trying to administer polio vaccines, officials said Tuesday," according to the Associated Press. "Police claimed their on-air comments about a vaccination campaign in the area inflamed the region and caused the attacks," the news agency writes (Rabiu, 2/12).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.