Reuters (10.27.03) - Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Three mainly Muslim states in northern Nigeria have suspended
a World Health Organization-led polio immunization program
because they feared it spread AIDS and caused infertility,
Nigerian officials said Monday. Chinwere Chukwuani, a director
at Nigeria's National Polio Immunization Office, said the
suspension could cause further spread of polio in Nigeria,
which already has the highest number of cases in the world and
is one of only seven countries where polio is still prevalent.
In Geneva, WHO said there was no question about the purity or
safety of the vaccine and warned that Nigeria was exporting
polio to neighboring countries. The three states follow Sharia
Law, a code of Islamic law whose 2000 introduction in northern
Nigeria led to sectarian riots and polarized the country. Dr.
Datti Ahmed, president of Nigeria's Supreme Council for Sharia
Law, said the vaccine "can give the AIDS virus and that it
contains contaminants that are likely to cause cancer in the
human body." WHO's Dr. David Heymann said, "We are 100 percent
certain that the vaccine is pure and cannot cause any of the
problems being imputed to it."