Tag Archives: nigeria

Nigeria marks three years without a case of polio

Nigeria announced that three years have passed since it last recorded a case of polio, a key step towards eradicating the notorious disease in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Credit: Flickr

This is a big change from 2012 when the country accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide. While it can be seen as a significant milestone, it will be several months before the country can officially be labeled polio-free.

Now, the WHO need to make sure there is a robust surveillance system in Nigeria to be certain that there are no further cases of the wild poliovirus, the chairman of Nigeria‘s polio committee, Dr Tunji Funsho, said.

“We are confident that very soon we will be back here trumpeting the certification that countries have, once and for all, kicked polio out of Africa,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

Nigeria is the last country in Africa to have witnessed a case of polio — in Borno state, in the north-east. Outside of Nigeria, the last case on the continent was in the Puntland region of Somalia, in 2014.

Insecurity in the north-east of Nigeria had hindered the polio vaccination program, but success in fighting the Boko Haram militant group has been cited as one of the reasons behind the recent success.

In addition, officials have said that political support and an injection of funds have also helped. In 2018, there were a total of 33 polio cases confined to just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Matshidiso Moeti said the continent is “on the verge of an extraordinary public health achievement; one which will be our legacy to our children and children’s children”. But health experts urge caution.

They must first be sure that every part of the continent has been reached and no cases have been missed. For now, there are renewed calls to vaccinate children against polio. It has taken the effort of thousands of volunteers to deliver the much-needed vaccines to all parts of the continent.

Polio, a highly infectious disease, invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, and headache. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

Most endangered gorilla species caught for the first time on film

The Cross River gorilla is a critically endangered gorilla species, native to the border region of Nigeria-Cameroon. Today, only about 250 to 300 individuals are alive, due to habitat loss and poaching, making it the rarest of all four gorilla species. It’s so rare and elusive, that no one has ever been able to record a Cross River gorilla, and were it not for a few photos, the outside world would’ve had no idea of their existence. Camera traps displaces around Cameroon’s Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, however, have offered us a true gem – live footage of not one, but eight Cross River gorillas.

The video is truly extraordinary, and in just one minute of released footage, one can see 3% of the species walking casually through the reservation. One of the gorillas, at some point, can be seen rushing through in front of the camera, while beating his chest, offering an unique moment. On the other side of the scale, one of the pack’s gorillas is disturbingly missing an arm, most likely caused by a snare left by poachers.

“Spectacular footage such as this, which we’ve never had before for Cross River gorillas, is absolutely vital to inspire local people, the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon, and the global community to care about and to save this unique subspecies,” James Deutsch, executive director for WCS’s Africa Program, said in a prepared release. “Continued research of this kind will help fine-tune management plans to protect this rarest of apes.”

Scientists claim that the whole Cross River gorilla population is dispersed around a mountainous strip, 12,000 km long. It’s this extremely low density that makes them so hard to spot – maybe, ultimately, this is what allowed them to survive in the first place.

“Cross River gorillas occur in very low densities across their entire range, so the appearance of a possible snare injury is a reminder that continued law enforcement efforts are needed to prevent further injuries to gorillas in the sanctuary,” said Liz Macfie, gorilla coordinator for WCS’s Species Program.

Lead poisoning kills 400 Nigerian children in just a few months

The problems Africa is facing are numerous, and extremely hard to tackle; even worse, other problems appear all the time: lead poisoning has killed 400 Nigerian children since November, according to a report filed by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The recent study suggests the death tole is on the rising, and the crisis in the Zamfara is unlikely to end in the near future.

Poverty, of course, is the major problem for the people there. Illegal gold mining has reached such “heights” that desperate farmers are digging rocks from mines with their bare hands, unaware of the fact that the ore extracted has extremely high concentrations of lead, that polute the earth, water, and even water.

Lead poisoning, also known as saturnism or plumbism interferes with pretty much all the major organs, causing especially dangerous malfunctions nervous and reproductive systems, as well as the kidneys. Young children and pregnant women are extremely vulnerable to this condition, and even low quantities of lead can lead to irreparable damage, or even death.

“The immature body system of children exposed to contaminated soils and gold processing tools tends to rapidly absorb associated lead and in the process poisoning then leading to convulsion, paralysis and even death,” NEMA Director General, Muhammad Sani-Sidi, said in a statement on March 7.

The report concludes that the lead and even mercury levels in the air were about 500 times the acceptable level, so even if all the mining stops tomorrow, things will not get any better any time soon.