VICTIMS of Polio in Niger have called on the state government to fund its association to enable members to move into the hinterlands to enlighten the populace on the dangers of rejecting polio vaccination.
The victims, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Tuesday in Minna, lamented that their association – Polio Affected Persons Association (PAPA) – had not received any government funding “since 2014.”
“We want the Niger Government to resume funding the association as part of measures toward total eradication of the disease in the state,” Mallam Auwal Ahmed, Chairman of the association, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said.
“The Niger government stopped funding the association in 2014; such negligence is inimical to public health.
“We need to visit the rural areas of Niger to sensitise, educate and enlighten the people on polio and its immunisation benefits.
“There are still some places in Niger where parents reject immunisation on the excuse that it is evil.
“Our union believes that an annual tour of the 25 local governments is necessary so that members will sensitise and educate the people on the prevention of the disease,” he said.
Ahmed regretted the dearth of funds that had crippled the association and decried government’s apathy to the plight of polio victims.
“I sincerely call on Governor Sanni Bello to use his good office to come to our aid and appreciate us because PAPA has a very important role to play in the fight against poliomyelitis,” he said.
Ahmed disclosed that women in Mashegu and Kontagora local government areas were in the habit of shunning antenatal and postnatal care, largely because of farm work.
“Most of them prefer to engage in farming activities and have often argued that such exercises were detrimental to public health.
“Such women give birth at home with local midwives attending to them. It is always difficult to convince them to immunise their infants. But if PAPA is funded, we can make a big difference,” he said.