Japan has donated a cold room for storing polio vaccines to the government of the northern Nigerian state of Kano, the part of the world worst affected by the disease, diplomats said.
This project aims to help eradicate the wild polio virus and to improve on disease prevention in Nigeria, Seisuke Narumiya, a Japanese embassy official said at a ceremony to inaugurate the cold room.
The 5.2 million-dollar (3.6 million euro) cold room at the government-run Nassarawa general hospital in Kano city has the capacity to store 4.3 million doses of polio vaccine and 3.5 million doses of measles vaccines, Narumiya said.
Kano state stalled polio immunization for 13 months between 2003 and 2004 following claims by radical Islamic clerics and some Muslim doctors that the vaccine was laced with substances that can render girls infertile as part of a US-led effort to depopulate Africa.
The ban on the vaccine led to a radical upsurge in polio cases that made Kano the epicenter of the transmission of the virus to other hitherto polio-free regions of the world.
"This cold room ... will tremendously strengthen our fight to eradicate poliomyelitis in Kano," Kano Health Commissioner Aisha Isyaku Kiru said.
For the first nine months of 2007, Kano State recorded 50 new polio infections, down sharply from the 357 new infections recorded in the comparable period the previous year, Kiru said.