Weekly Trust (Kaduna)
March 20, 2004
Posted to the web March 22, 2004
Jamilah Nuhu Musa
In the face of the raging controversy surrounding the polio immunisation, another evidence that tends to cast more doubt on the efficacy of the vaccine has emerged. A three-year-old girl, Aisha Bashir M. Tukur in Kano State has paralysis of both the upper and lower limbs. Series of tests and researches by medical experts in the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital and the Orthopedic Hospital, Kano indicated that she had been infected by the 'Gullen base Syndrome'.
He recalled that she used to be a very lively child before she was struck by polio. In his words: "What baffles me is that I am one of the people who had never had any doubt about the immunisation exercise, and had always left my door open to NPI officials to immunise my children."
A father of four, Bashir, who brought Aisha to Trust Newspapers office in Kano, said that the case of Aisha has now changed his perception. The little girl's situation has made it impossible for his wife to look after the other children effectively. For instance, the child she is currently nursing has to be taken to another house to enable her look after Aisha. "We are always at her beck and call as she is unable to use both her hands and legs," Bashir said.
Bashir M. Tukur Hotoro presented a documentation of the result of the various tests and researches done on little Aisha to Weekend Trust:
Bashir Hotoro's account of how his daughter got paralysed.
My daughter is now three years old. She was a physically active baby who didn't miss any of the routine immunisation exercises since her birth. Unfortunately, on 15th May 2003, Aisha was admitted at the Murtala Muhammed Hospital, Kano as a result of a very serious fever. Three days after admission, she became paralysed. She couldn't even turn her neck, eyes nor was she able to swallow any liquid. Her critical condition necessitated the introduction of a temporary artificial clinical rubber syringe into her nose for feeding. This condition continued till the end of the month she was admitted.
From that time, serious laboratory tests commenced and consultations with various paediatric consultants revealed she was suffering from the "Gullen Base Syndrome." Sequel to this, the NPI physicians were invited for proper polio investigation, which was conducted at the hospital's laboratory. Also, a further investigation was conducted at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) for another proper laboratory test. very unfortunately, they discovered that Aisha had a muscular polio paralysis. As a result of that, they prescribed special physiotherapy, which commenced at Murtala Muhammed Hospital, Kano. She was there till the first week of October 2003 before she was transferred to the National Orthopedic Hospital, Dala. At the orthopedic hospital, she was placed on physiotherapy/stimulation treatment. Special rehabilitative support is also expected to be given to her but this support is yet to commence.
We have now been advised to take Aisha to the Saudi/German Specialist Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as her condition has continued to deteriorate.
Bashir's personal view on polio vaccine
After discovering that my daughter was suffering from this muscular polio paralysis, I personally interviewed some NPI and NGO personnel on why she became a paralysed patient after receiving all the routine immunisation from her birth to date. Their answer was, "There are two different causes of polio paralysis namely (I) Polio Virus and (II) Polio Vaccine Virus. I was also intimated that in every 100,000 vaccinated children, there is every possibility of having one child with this VAPP (Vaccine Associated Polio Paralysis).
I asked them again if they could confirm their statement formally and prescribe a suitable treatment. They refused and told me that they had no authority to do that. But that if I really wanted to reconfirm their statement, I should take my daughter to an authorised WHO/UNICEF medical centre at Accra (Ghana). That it is the sole body with the full authority of determining and confirming VAPP.
Due to the huge expenditure I have incurred on the treatment of my child, I was advised to approach some NGOs for medical assistance. I went to two regional offices of the Global NGO at Kano looking for some medical assistance in order to enable the continuation of Aisha's medication. However, I was highly disappointed. because, according to the statement of one foreign NGO official, "medicating victimized poliomyelitis patients is not our business. our basic role is only public enlightenment campaigns, financial assistance to NPI, supplying the vaccines and training the immunisation personnel, etc." Also, that their role is only to monitor and ensure polio eradication from Nigeria and not provide medication for affected victims. I was very staggered.
The good question to ask is, why do these NPI/NGOs spend enormous funds on the immunisation programmes only to exclude the medication of the affected poliomyelitis patients? It is worth noting that VVF, TB, HIV, etc patients are given special consideration by both NGOs and the Federal Ministry of Health by providing subsidised drugs or even pre-medication.
Why not for poliomyelitis? Do they really want to eradicate polio completely?
Also, why can't they establish special poliomyelitis units in our hospitals with specialised personnel and modern physiotherapy equipment, etc for affective treatment of the affected poliomyelitis patients free or at very subsidised rates, as observed in the case of VVF if they are really serious?
I'm appealing to FMH/NPI & JNI/Kano State government to resolve the prolonged debate on the safety and genuineness of the oral polio vaccines (OPV) by joining hands and working together in order to find lasting solution to the problem. They should also ensure that the vaccines are free of contamination and they should provide effective treatment for affected victims like my daughter.
They can establish special poliomyelitis units in our hospitals (both urban and rural) with modern physiotherapy equipment for effective medication of poliomyelitis patients at very subsidised costs.
The NGOs involved in public campaigns for the immunisation exercise should consider the curative measures for poliomyelitis patients, with special provision in their annual budget, instead of restricting themselves to immunisation measures only.
Due to the importance of immunisation, the state governments should ensure that where they need to reconsider their current position and allow for the continuation of the immunisation programme, the vaccines are in every respect safe, genuine and preferably manufactured and tested by reputable corporate agencies and home-based God-fearing Nigerian specialists who enjoy public respect.
The authorities concerned should improve on their method of employing the house-to house immunisation officials by stopping the rampant employment of various illiterates (non professionals) and to ensure that the professionals so employed are given intensive training on how best to handle and administer the vaccines with effective monitoring and supervision from well-qualified specialists at the grassroots level.
The FMH, NPI and NGOs should stop importing/supplying the vaccines directly to various state governments. Alternatively, the federal government should only provide adequate funds to these state governments and allow them to import their required vaccines from reputable countries and carry out the immunisation exercise without the direct interference of the donor agencies like UNICEF and USAID.
I would like to appeal to philanthropists, government/public agencies and entire Nigerians that my paralysed daughter is still undergoing treatment. therefore, I request them to assist me by praying to Almighty Allah for her quick recovery and all the Nigerian children that have fallen victims. I also wish to appeal for assistance financially, as we have now been advised to take her to the Saudi/German Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for special treatment/rehabilitative support, which is a very expensive venture. As I am only a civil servant, this cost is unaffordable for me. I need immediate financial assistance for my daughter to revive her life as my wife and I were planning to enroll her in school before the unfortunate incident.