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article imageGates hails progress in polio fight in Nigeria's north

By Samuel Okocha     Jun 7, 2010 in Health
Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Sunday hailed progress in efforts to reduce polio cases in the northern Nigerian state of Kano, describing it as victory in the global fight against the epidemic.
According to a last year report on UN’s IRIN website, the World Health Organization says the highly infectious virus causing polio leads to irreversible paralysis in one out of every 200 cases – and up to 10 percent of these persons die when their breathing muscles are frozen.
Gates visited Kano to assess the impact of polio immunization in the once polio-endemic state, considered crucial to the eradication of the disease worldwide.
"It is fantastic to be here to see so much progress... in reducing the polio burden," Gates told a gathering of political and traditional leaders in Kano as quoted by AFP.
"The good result we have seen this year in Kano is a combination of good work and some good luck that the virus has not come back from any of the neighboring countries," he said.
The Microsoft boss inspected polio vaccination exercises in some parts of the city as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's global polio eradication drive.
The Kano state government had between 2003 and 2004 suspended polio immunization following allegations by some Muslim clerics and doctors that the vaccine made to reduce the population of Africa.
The suspension reportedly led to the transmission of the polio virus to other parts of the world that were considered polio-free while it continued to spread even more in Nigeria.
However a sustained immunization and orientation campaigns by government, health officials and international donors in collaboration with local political, religious and traditional leaders have led to remarkable progress in the drive to eradicate polio in Africa’s most populous country and the world by extension.
In the last 17 months Kano state, an area of concern on polio virus in Nigeria, has not recorded a single polio virus transmission, according to health officials.
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