Kano is the regional capital of the state of the same name in Nigeria. Poliomyelitis, often shortened to polio and also called infantile paralysis, is an incurable viral disease. What have Kano and Polio got to do with one another? In 2002, Islamic religious zeal combined with lack of knowledge and a hate campaign against western influence led to Kano shunning the WHO’s polio campaign. Rumor had it that the vaccine had been laced with anti-fertility drugs or even that they were used by the West to spread AIDS. The fatal consequence: after four years of disinformation, more than 3,000 children were infected with the poliovirus. But the enormous number of children who suffered permanent health issues made even the most bigoted leaders change their minds. Now, they have are supporting prophylactic vaccination. Together with other organizations, UNICEF has been carrying out information and awareness campaigns that have already proved to be very successful: from 2009 to 2010, the number of polio cases in Nigeria decreased by 95%.
Capturing the demand for the right to physical integrity and good health, in particular in women and children, has been the main motivation behind American photographer Mary F. Calvert’s impressive images for many years.