Shock Value

Shock Value

The Nigerian economy, like any other, experiences “shocks”— events or policy decisions that can send a ripple of changes through the system. This column zooms in on these ripples in a range of sectors to explore how and why these shocks matter.

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99 Health Problems (But Polio Isn't One)

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi is an avid reader seeking insights in unexpected places. Her research interests include economic development, political economy and trade.

After a full year without any new polio cases in Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced earlier this month that the disease is no longer endemic in the country. This development has come at a time when we really need some good news, so a little self-congratulation is not amiss. This is especially true considering the major polio eradication setback the country faced in 2003 when five states boycotted the oral polio vaccine (OPV), leading to a jump in reported cases between 2002 and 2006.

That boycott stemmed from allegations that the OPV contained HIV and sterility-causing agents and it took a concerted effort by imams, Islamic school teachers, traditional rulers, doctors, journalists, and polio survivors to restore confidence in the campaign. It also took a team of over 200,000 people, including Nigerians who worked to administer the vaccine even in the remotest areas, under difficult and sometimes life-threatening conditions. As recently as 2013, nine female polio vaccine workers lost their lives in the process. As it stands, polio eradication is certainly an achievement we should collectively be proud of.

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