Superstitious belief as cultural barrier in polio communication campaign in northern Nigeria

Gambo Ibrahim Ahmad, Mohd Khairie Ahmad, Joyce Cheah Lynn-Sze


The Global Polio Eradication Initiative was formed in 1988 to eradicate poliomyelitis in the world. However, in Nigeria, the campaign faces challenge of rejection or non-compliance from mostly Muslim parents of northern Nigeria. The study investigated how cultural superstitious beliefs constitute barrier to the acceptance of polio vaccination. Data was collected through focus group of Muslim parents with eligible children five years and below in states of Kaduna, Kano and Bauchi of northern Nigeria. The findings revealed that the cultural superstitious belief on polio disease in communities serves as barrier to the acceptance of polio vaccination in northern Nigeria. The study concludes that there is the need for the inclusion of Islamic cultural sensitivity in polio communication messages that target the Muslim populations in order to address the issue of superstitious beliefs on poliomyelitis. The polio communication messages should be in both English and native languages and contain relevant quotations from the verses of the Qur’an and Hadith that talk about health issues, child protection and immunisation, disease prevention, personal hygiene and environmental sanitations.  


Health communication, health promotion, cultural sensitivity, messages, superstitious beliefs.

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