Researchers Appeal for New Efforts to Stop Polio

    05 November, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

    Researchers have appealed for new efforts to stop polio in countries where the disease never seems to disappear. They say stronger health systems and greater community involvement are needed in three such countries – Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All three have faced attacks by militants, political unrest and a lack of trust among the populations.

    The researchers made them appear in the publication PLOS Medicine. Seye Abimbola works for Nigeria's National Primary Health Care Development Agency. He says it's time to move away from what has been called a leader-centric approach to polio eradication. Such a methodology plays more importance on leadership than shared responsibility.

    Researchers Appeal for New Efforts to Stop Polio
    In this May 28, 2013 photo, Somali vaccination workers give an anti-polio drop to a child, in Mogadishu. Somalia.

    Dr. Abimbola says parents often have reasonable concerns about the safety of vaccines. He says some families may have lost one or two children to diseases like pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea. A mother he says may wonder what the government is doing about sicknesses other than polio.

    Dr. Abimbola says polio immunization should be part of a larger health and development intervention program. He writes, "the ambition of the global health community to eradicate polio appears to be blinding it to lessons learned about health systems over the past 30 years."

    He says it is now more important than ever to deal with people who distrust polio prevention as human beings with real concerns, not as an opponent. Further, he says it is important to somehow show militant groups that health interventions are necessary.

    For example, aid agencies say there have been cases when even the Taliban in Afghanistan has supported immunization campaigns against polio.

    Seye Abimbola says the Afghan Taliban approves of action against polio, because the group thinks of itself as waiting to take control of the government. In his words, when a militant group wants the trust of the people, they go at it by trying to do what the people want.

    The doctor sees the support of the Taliban as its way of seeking to gain legitimacy, trying to seem responsible and worthy of governing.

    And that's the Health Report from VOA Learning English. I'm Milagros Ardin.