Polio eradication efforts in regions of geopolitical strife: the Boko Haram threat to efforts in sub-Saharan Africa
The World Health Organization aims to eradicate wild poliovirus worldwide by the end of 2018. Cameroon and Nigeria, neighboring countries, have been affected by the terrorist and militant activities of the Islamist sect Boko Haram. Impacted regions are mainly the far North of Cameroon and Northern Nigeria. Targets of Boko Haram aggression in these zones include violence against polio workers, disruption of polio immunization campaigns, with consequent reduced access to health care and immunization. In addition to this significant problem, Northern Nigeria has historically seen rejection of polio virus vaccine initiatives. It remains to know how health systems can continue operations against polio in areas where Boko Haram operates. If appropriate measures are not urgently taken, it will be not possible to meet the 2018 goal of polio virus eradication. The response should include specialized immunization activities in conflict zones, will engagement of leaders. Countries should also explore immunization activities by soldiers and military personnel.
Keywords: Boko Haram, terrorism, polio, polio virus, wild polio virus, vaccination, immunization, Nigeria, Cameroon