Historical archive

Norway condemns killing of health workers in Nigeria

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“Norway condemns the killing at the end of last week of nine health workers in northern Nigeria,” said State Secretary Arvinn Gadgil.

“Norway condemns the killing at the end of last week of nine health workers in northern Nigeria,” said State Secretary Arvinn Gadgil.

“Health workers must be respected and protected in all circumstances. We are deeply concerned about the increase in violence we are seeing, particularly if it means that the health sector is now becoming a target for terrorists. This affects not only the health workers themselves, but also the fight against polio and thus some of the most vulnerable people living in poor areas of the world,” Mr Gadgil said.

In 1985, polio was found in 125 countries. Today, it is found in just three: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Nigeria is the only country in the world where the number of polio cases has risen during the past year.

“Vaccinations against polio are essential if we are to reverse this trend. The health workers killed last week were taking part in a countrywide polio vaccination campaign in Nigeria. Nigeria was the country where there were most cases of polio in 2012,” Mr Gadgil said.

Norway and the UK are working with the Nigerian authorities to improve child and maternal health and to increase vaccine coverage in northern Nigeria. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has focused attention on saving mothers and children in Nigeria and the rest of the world. He has co-chaired the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, which seeks to increase access to affordable and essential medicines, together with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

“Our goal is to eradicate polio completely, which is fully possible. Efforts to immunise more people against polio have borne good results. But the security situation in Nigeria is now a growing threat,” said Mr Gadgil.

In the early 2000s, a number of Muslim leaders in northern Nigeria opposed polio vaccination and gave out false information claiming that vaccination could lead to infertility and AIDS. The result was that vaccine coverage fell and the number of cases of polio in northern Nigeria and neighbouring countries rose.

In December last year 19 health workers taking part in polio vaccination drives in Pakistan were also killed.