Nigerian health workers Saturday began house-to-house immunization of 4.6 million children under the age of five in the northern state of Kano in a new drive to eradicate the disease.
"Health personnel from all over the country are in Kano for the four-day polio immunization campaign during which we intend to immunise 4.6 million children against polio virus," Abdurrahman Yakubu, Kano state coordinator of the National Programme of Immunization (NPI), told AFP.
For four days 26,000 health workers will go door-to-door in the 484 wards of the state administering oral polio drops to those under five years old, he said.
"We have decided to employ a staggering strategy of pulling personnel and logistics in one polio-endemic area at a time as a means of effectively fighting the polio virus," senior health official Ado Abdullahi told AFP.
Kano has been the epicentre of the transmission of the crippling polio virus to other parts of the world since 2003 when the authorities suspended polio immunization for 13 months.
The suspension followed claims by radical Muslim clerics and some medical doctors that the vaccine was laced with substances that could render girls infertile as part of a US-led Western plot to depopulate Africa .
Although the state resumed its polio campaign after clinical trials in and outside Nigeria proved the vaccine safe, Kano had already infected other countries in the region that were considered polio-free and the crippling disease spread to other parts of the world.
The World Health Organisation has recently listed Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan as the only polio-endemic countries in the world.
"A Type 1 polio outbreak is right now raging in northern Nigeria. Of every 10 children paralysed by the Type 1 polio virus this year, eight are in Nigeria," Margaret Chan, WHO director-general told a Rotary conference in California last month.
Out of 405 polio cases currently recorded in Nigeria, Kano accounts for 138 cases, which represents 34 percent of all the cases, according to WHO.