FACT-CHECK: Jonathan, Health Minister lied about polio eradication in Nigeria

polio-victims
polio-victims

As part of his campaign to be re-elected, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly said that his administration has “totally eradicated” polio.

According to This Day newspaper, Mr. Jonathan said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) should take the required steps to declare Nigeria polio-free, as it did with Ebola. President Jonathan is said to have made the remarks at the Palace of the Asagba of Asaba, Chike Edozien, on February 27.

Mr. Jonathan’s claim follows that of the health minister, Halliru Alhassan, who said in January that Nigeria would “be certified polio-free” that month. Punch newspaper wrote that Mr. Alhassan had said that the country qualifies “to be declared polio-free in line with global requirements” because no polio cases had been diagnosed in the last six months of 2014.

But the chairman of Nigeria’s expert review committee on polio eradication, Oyewale Tomori, was widely reported to have said recently that Nigeria can only be certified as polio-free in 2018 should there be no further cases of polio before then.

Who is right? Could Nigeria soon be officially declared polio-free or only in 2018?

Six cases in 2014

Polio infections are usually symptom-free, but in about one in 200 cases it causes paralysis, usually in the legs and often for life. People can die from polio when the virus paralyses the muscles that help them breathe.

Thanks to immunisation, the disease has been eradicated from most of the world. Only Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan remain on the WHO’s list of polio-endemic countries.

Its toll is highly visible on the streets of Nigerian cities like Lagos, where victims wheel themselves around on skateboards. By mid-2003, polio was on the verge of being eradicated in the country when a group of religious and political leaders in northern Nigeria claimed that the polio vaccine caused infertility. They advised their followers against having their children vaccinated. What followed was a surge in new cases.
Since then the Nigerian government and its international partners have made steady progress in finally eradicating polio. In 2014, Nigeria’s total case count was 6, compared to 53 in 2013, a reduction of almost 90%.

How polio certification works

To ensure that a country is truly free of polio, the WHO requires two waiting periods.
The first is measured from the date that paralysis commences in the last case of “wild polio”. (Wild polio refers to a form of the virus that was common in pre-vaccination times and caused a large burden of disease. It has been virtually eliminated except in the countries where polio is still endemic.) If a year passes without any new cases diagnosed, the WHO removes a country from its list of polio-endemic countries.
Nigeria’s last case was identified on 24 July 2014. The country could therefore be taken off the WHO’s list of polio-endemic countries in four months’ time should there be no new cases.

To be certified polio-free, WHO rules require that a country and its regional neighbours prove that they have stopped the transmission of the polio virus for at least three consecutive years. Detailed laboratory testing data must be submitted to support this.

Therefore, if Nigeria experiences no further cases of polio, the region could be certified polio-free by 2018, at the earliest.

Backsliding still possible…

There are concerns that the upcoming elections may harm Nigeria’s progress. A surge in cases followed every poll since 2003, because outbreaks of violence prevented health workers from immunising children.
There are also worries that the focus on polio eradication undermines routine immunisation programmes. But the systems put in place to tackle polio were credited with helping Nigeria successfully manage its Ebola outbreak last year.

Conclusion: Claims that Nigeria could be declared polio-free in 2015 are incorrect

Nigeria identified its last case of polio in July 2014. Should no further cases be recorded, the country will be taken off the WHO’s list of polio-endemic countries this July.

But it will take much longer for the region to be certified polio-free, as WHO rules require three years to pass from the time the last case is recorded in a country.

At best, Nigeria could be certified polio-free in 2018. Claims that it could happen this year are therefore premature. Nigerians need to stay extra vigilant, especially around election time later this month.

Dr Ike Anya is a Nigerian doctor, specialist in public health medicine, and co-editor of Nigeria Health Watch.

This fact-check was done by our partner, Africa Check, a non-partisan organisation which promotes accuracy in public debate and the media. We have its permission to republish. Follow the organisation on Twitter at @AfricaCheck or visit its website at www.africacheck.org


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  • buring spear

    RUBBISH HOW CAN SUCH HAPPEN WHEN THE FULANI NORTH HAVE OFTEN DECLARED THAT THEY DO NOT WANT THEIR KIDS–TO BE VACCINATED AGAINST POLIO–APART FROM THAT-THIS IS NO STORY–MADNESS AT BEST—————–THIS IS AFRICA———- NOT EUROPE——-ANOTHER PVC CARDS-ATI CARD READERS-HOW CAN THE UPCOMING ELECTION HARAM THE PLAN TO CONTINUE WITH THE POLIO ERADICATION PROJECT—————ONLY GOD KNOWS WHERE SOME OF THESE WRITERS HAIL FROM IN NIGERIA——-THIS IS PURE NONESENSE

    • Tayelolu

      Why is a fact and stating the fact “nonsensical”?

    • Moe

      Go and take your medication. The spear has burnt too close to your brain.

    • Guguru

      Buring Spear,

      It seems your sense of judgement is slowly being clouded by an air of deep disappointment. Your ambiguous vituperations illustrates a mind that is effectively trapped in an illusory reality of their your own making.

    • drdnx

      Mr. Know all,

      Are you aware there had been long series of strikes in the past year among primary care workers in the country that has hindered the immunization campaigns?

      Are you aware the said reported case was not in the war zone?

      Are you aware immunization coverage below the Niger is not 100%. There are groups of people in the south that have refused immunization based on belief or misinformation.

      Immunization coverage issues are more complex than simply stated in the article. The rest of the country have been misinformed on the salient reasons the northern people declined immunization.

      Dont comment on issues you do not know about let alone insult people. Just grow up

  • Jonathan a PhD holder dies not know what it means to eradicate a disease. What a pity. A president who delights in telling lies will keeping on making mistakes.

    • Trouble_3

      What of your Duncee who death not know the name of his running mate and dies not have a certificate?

    • buring spear

      Mumu how many Nigerians have been killed in the line of duty following refusal by the fulani north to allow health officials to carry out vaccination exercise-monkey

      • Guguru

        Burning spear,

        It seems the poison on the tip of your spear is wearing off these days. LOL.

      • drdenx

        Are you aware there had been long series of strikes in the past year among primary care workers in the country that has hindered the immunization campaigns?

        Are you aware the said reported case was not in the war zone?

        Are you aware immunization coverage below the Niger is not 100%

        Dont comment on issues you do not know about let alone insult people.

  • Chukwuka Edjor – Olize

    WHO IS TO BLAME? JONATHAN or Bokohari’s NORTHANSTANI REPUBLIC?

    “…At least nine women who were vaccinating children against polio have been shot dead in northern Nigeria by gunmen suspected of belonging to a radical Islamist sect….”

    “…The killings drew comparisons with a series of incidents in Pakistan last December where five female polio vaccinators were gunned down, apparently by Islamist militants. It also signalled a fresh wave of hostility towards immunisation drives in Nigeria, where some clerics have claimed the vaccines are part of a western plot to sterilise young girls and eliminate the Muslim population….” – TheGuardian – Friday 8 February 2013 17.55 GMT

    This PT’s and apc inspired report or if you like story, does not mention that 9 Polio workers, all women, were short dead by Northerstani Republic in continent Nigeria….for religious reasons of Sharia for which Bokohari is an avid sympathizer. You cannot blame Jonathan, blame the Fulanis who love to kill, kill, and kill…just like their candidate who promised blood soaked streets should he lose the coming elections.

    ….Why not tell us the railways are not working? Or that our airports are not better than ever before? Or that there is more constant Power supply now @ tarriffs half the cost of the past times? Bad belle no be work o!….Nonsense!

    • drdenx

      You are so filled with hate and i am sure you’d call yourself a christian?

      Are you aware there had been long series of strikes in the past year among primary care workers in the country that has hindered the immunization campaigns?

      Are you aware the said reported case was not in the war zone?

      Are you aware immunization coverage below the Niger is not 100%. There are groups of people in the southeast and west that have refused immunization based on belief or misinformation. I have met christians who refuse immunization. There are cases of difficult to reach areas.

      Immunization coverage issues are more complex than simply stated in the article, particularly the north. The rest of the country have been misinformed on the salient reasons the northern people declined immunization.

      The south appears protected because of what is termed “herd immunity”, because more children have been immunized not that all have been immunized. Cases have been missed even in the sophisticated cities like lagos because the parents do not present to hospital, rather the church until the window to diagnose polio is missed.

      Dont comment on issues you do not know about let alone insult people. Just grow up and learn to be at peace with yourself then stop the hate.

  • emmanuel

    But is Nigeria written on the faces of these Children? Why put pishure for your website without description or tag? Where did you guys learn your journalism? So e don reach like dat?..that you will just google polio pishure and post the way u like?…bcos u want to campaign for Duncee?

    • Guguru

      Emma,

      Are you convulsing over the news? Do you want to jump off Eko bridge out of frustration that the truth has finally been told? LOL.

  • buring spear

    The chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfewa, has said that the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is unfit to play a key role in Nigeria politics and should be chased out of the country.
    Akinfenwa made this assertion during the handing over of the party’s flag to the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Lagos, Bola Ogunseye.
    “The force behind APC is Tinubu, he is the engine room, the founder, the leader, the owner. Lagos is the theatre of political war for 2015 elections. 80 per cent of the resources of the state belong to this man who must be chased out of the political arena of Nigeria,” he said.
    The chairman alleged that Tinubu has conquered Lagos and acquired it,
    stressing that he performed this great feat through manoeuvring, scheming and arrangement noting that everything about him is by arrangement, his birth, place of birth, education, governorship, are all ‘arrangee business’.
    He further stated that Tinubu having conquered and acquired Lagos, has now shifted his attention to conquer and acquire Nigeria, noting that if allowed, it might be the end of true democracy in Nigeria, as the National Assembly will be a mere rubber stamp.

    • GEJisaDISASTER

      Moron, did you read the article? It’s about GEJ and his one million lies variable not Tinubu.

      • share Idea

        Pls use google to find out how long does a country needs to be declared polio and make the judgement yourself

  • Guguru

    Jonathan has incarcerated Nigerians in his dungeon of lies. We are now being forced to eat, drink, and piss his lies everyday.

  • Wetin Naija

    This Jonathan too dey lie

    • share Idea

      Little google search will reveal to you that a nation is declared polio free after six months of last incidence.

  • Tunsj

    Jonathan is a pathological liar.

  • Tony

    But this pic of polio victims are 12-17years old kids. If this is ur evidence then the president is correct about polio eradication .

    • Curseless

      It is simple Tony, that picture is only illustrative

      • Tony

        We need fact in jonalisim not illustration.

    • Bimbo

      Really???

  • richkid

    Apc sponsors rubish news. How old are this oeopl? Northerners that refuse polil vaccines but GEJ administration deviced ways to do it. That today they are polio free!!

  • warry

    Even from your report,you said the last new case was recorded in July 2014. So if no new case is recorded we shall be declared Polio free sometime in future. That shows that a lot of work has been done by this Govt. Your headline is therefore misleading. I want to ask is there a course in journalism for misleading headlines?

    • Guguru

      Warry,

      Why do you struggle with comprehension? Did you miss the following in your strange reading of the article? LOL.

      “…to be certified polio-free, as WHO rules require three years to pass from the time the last case is recorded in a country.”.

  • Magenta

    Jonathan is a terrible lier . See the fake PHD he’s claiming shamelessly. Drunkard womaniser

  • Garden-City Boy

    Most disingenuous for the APC-JANJAWEED to display photos of awusa polio freaks on newspaper front pages. It is a pity Arewaghanistanis. They are so used to their teeming crowds of fellows with physical disability, in many cases self-inflicted, though. They call their disabled by all sorts of names, Mai kahu, mai ido daya, dan’ gwurugwu, Mai hanchi’n doki, kuteri, mai bura’n tashi and all sorts of stuff. No sense of decency, no respect for their less fortunate.
    In a majority of cases, the indolent awusa moslem man loves physical disability; it is a license for street begging…..for free money. You find his public nuisance on sidewalks and pedestrian alleys, with their limb stumps on display. And that is the essence of sharia, to generate stumpy, freakish beggars into the environment. The freaks on the photo are common spectacle in awusa north. These are teens, some as old as 18 who had their polio way before Jonathan went into politics, let alone when he became President. For a primitively superstitious clan that would want to eat their cake and have it, awusas reject children polio vaccination.
    They blame infertility, loss of sexual drive on polio vaccine. Health workers on mass inoculation drive have been attacked and murdered by these barbaric people. For them, as as it is for animals in the wild, life is all about sex, sex and sex; chi duri, chi duri, rape, rape and rape. The celestial expectation of every awusa man is the 72-virgin grand prize in a paradise of orgies after martyrdom. It is all about procreation and sex, no more, no less.
    Then full-grown, adult awusa elite make the choice to deny their people the benefit of polio vaccine and get what they bargained for -a proliferation of gangs of polio freaks. Then Jonathan must take blame for the idiotic choices they made for themselves voluntarily, not under duress. These people need to publish photos of troops of awusa.
    But we ain’t seen the end of this chicanery yet. These people need to publish more of these freaks…lepers with weeping wounds, amputees, quadriplegics, VVFs, those with bulging scrotal sacks, awusa lunatics running around naked, and they have loads and loads of these freaks. We will then concede that it is all Jonathan’s fault and Buhari then wins the vote for president. ……..Bastards!!!!!!!

    • Mr white Ahmed

      God bless you for this piece.

    • Lemmuel Odjay

      Mind your lingo, GCB. We in the South also share a common disease proliferation: its new name is called Trader’s Syndrome, TS for short, where every family is in the spare parts trading business and caring not about going to school. Now that is bad enough for a future generation. So please let’s take this issue one after the other for clarity. Is Nigeria now polio free? I’d be over the moon if your answer is “yes” and we could all go ahead and sing the “tra la la la la” song…

      • Garden-City Boy

        I know see that to regard entrepreneurial spirit a disease, while indolence must be extolled and cherished. Don’t you see why the NORTH/SOUTH mix remains a mirage? You don’t see values disparity here, perhaps. But the rider to your question ought to be: Why is it that these victims of “TS for short” not behave in the same barbaric manner as the awusa North, in spite of being “illiterate”. But let’s not talk about literacy here so as not to push Buhari’s woes too far. You have not heard about the recent 100-man carnage in communities in Benue State by Buhari’s fulani kinsmen, or have you? Buhari is not yet in power and fulani barbarism and impunity is already this bad.
        You come across as deficient in comprehension. You sound like one of these broken records with your question as to why Nigeria is not polio-free. To put it more succinctly, awusa North (not NIGERIA)is not polio-free. Why? It is their choice to have polio; physical disability is celebrated as a culture and fueled by sharia law. JOnathan has nothing whatsoever to do with that.

    • Onike24

      Bigot

      • Garden-City Boy

        That’s your asinine opinion.

        • Onike24

          Thank you for confirming that you are a die hard Bigot.

  • grace folarin

    new facts that re baseless.when and where did you gather your facts from because Even from your report,you said the last new case was recorded in July 2014. So if no new case is recorded we shall be declared Polio free sometime in future. That shows that a lot of work has been done by this Govt. Your headline is therefore misleading. I want to ask is there a course in journalism for misleading headlines?

    • Lemmuel Odjay

      This is interesting, Grace. Now please tell me, is Nigeria polio free. I am more interested about this than all that academic lingo…

  • favourtalk

    Nigerians had made up thier minds, they need change in this country, they are tired of lies and poor sectors again, embezzlement and all. We need a new course and a great minds to channel us well. We need change

  • Gideon Orkar

    Nigeria (read Northern) Pakistan and Afghanistan…what do they have in common? Answer and you will know why polio has been ravaging them.

    • Onike24

      Again another bigot on the loose, why is Polo then not prevalent in Saudi Arabia, India(large Muslim population) Malaysia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Dubai, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Brunei, to name a few! I guess bigotry has a way of short circuiting your thinking abilities.

      • drdenx

        Fantastic thinking!

      • Gideon Orkar

        Your mumuism dey wear suit and tie. All the countries and region listed at one time or the other refused polio vaccines claiming they were made to harm Muslims.

        • Onike24

          Wow! Stupidity on steroids.

    • Babawale Akinola

      President Jonathan speaking through Gideon Orkar, you are saying that you like what you see! Hm hm hm President Jonathan this is just like your position on Boko Haram, “let them-(i.e the Northerners”) kill themselves…” Hm hm Too bad for you Jonathan.

      • Gideon Orkar

        Son make sure you pay your taxes so I can spend as much as it want!

  • Enwereji Vitalis

    I don’t have to argue about your findings on Nigeria polio free , hence your write up is qualitative , an advise to the government and helpful to the society. Where I am so much concerned is that some Nigerians both at home and in diaspora don’t give credence or values to themselves or to what they have .Referring to President Jonathan as mr Jonathan is an indication of lacks in wisdom and knowledge .You can acquire experience by specialisation, but wisdom, knowledge and understanding is nature . You forgot that President Jonathan is a professor with PhD. You have to accord him the respect by addressing him as President Jonathan or Dr Jonathan , for respect is a reciprocal.