‘A Glorious Day For Nigeria’, FG Lauds Polio Eradication Certification

A file photo of the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, at a press conference in Abuja. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Federal Government has lauded the historic certification of Nigeria and Africa as a polio-free country and continent, respectively.

In a statement on Tuesday, the government welcomed the development as “a glorious day for Nigeria” and fulfilment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise.

It noted that the President had given the assurance that his administration would provide the necessary resources to strengthen the health system, routine immunisation, and ensure the country was certified polio-free.

Reacting to the feat recorded, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, described it as the fulfilment of President Buhari’s promise and the resilient spirit of Nigerians, especially frontline health workers who gave Nigeria the pride of place in the comity of nations.

“It is indeed one of the greatest dividends of the present administration,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by Mohammad Ohitoto who is the Head of Public Relations Unit at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

The Executive Director and Chief Executive of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, could not agree less with the minister on polio eradication in Nigeria.

“It is one classical example of human resilience, wherein the face of adversity, in spite of numerous setbacks, over the course of almost three decades, Nigerians came together, relentlessly worked hard with our donors and development partners to eradicate polio,” he stated.

Polio, Cross River
A file photo of a child with a deformed leg.

 

The NPHCDA boss added that the history of polio eradication in Nigeria was evidence of how the health system could work collaboratively with the community and religious leaders to eradicate any disease.

He stressed that the use of the polio eradication strategy contributed immensely to the rapid control of the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014.

Shuaib, who coordinated the Ebola outbreak response, revealed that the lessons learned from the success of polio eradication “is exactly what we’re using with the COVID-19 outbreak response.”

He said the recent feat did not come easy as it has been a long and arduous journey, with great efforts and investment from the government, donors, as well as local and international partners.

The NPHCDA boss listed them to include Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, WHO, Unicef, CDC, USAID, Gavi, EU, Global Affairs Canada, DFID, World Bank, JICA, KfW, and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, to mention a few.

He pointed out that the major problem the programme faced was insecurity, saying it affected the effort at achieving polio eradication.

Shuaib, however, believes the polio programme was able to surmount this problem and others through the establishment of the Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication, the Polio Emergency Operation Centers (EOC), the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Polio Eradication led by the Sultan of Sokoto, among others.

He attributed the achievement to the leadership provided by President Buhari, Ehanire, traditional and religious leaders, local and international partners, all health workers, and the Nigerian populace.

The NPHCDA also dedicated the certification to the memory of all those who lost their lives in the cause of polio eradication, describing them as Polio Heroes.

Bill Gates, Dangote Appraise Progress In Polio Eradication

Polio Eradication, Bill gates, DangoteThe Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Dangote Foundation have met with the Yobe State government to appraise progress of routine immunization in the state.

Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill Gates, the Chairman of the Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote and Yobe State Government met on Wednesday to appraise the progress made in the fight against polio and other eight child killer diseases in Yobe State.

The meeting was joined through video feed by Mr Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote both in the United States and Yobe State government in Damaturu, the state capital.

The video feed meeting had in attendance various developmental partners who pledged to give their all in the fight against the nine child killer diseases.

The meeting observed that 15 local governments out of the 17 in Yobe State were effectively covered during the period under review.

It was stated that the remaining local governments; Gujba and Gulani had suffered insurgency greatly and needed to be covered.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote and Yobe State had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in January on strengthening routine immunisation in the security threatened North East state of Nigeria.

The Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, informed the meeting that his administration was committed to the MoU to ensure that the nine child killer diseases are eradicated from the state and Nigeria in general.

He said that the state would ensure full coverage of the ongoing support for the routine immunisation programme through community engagement, particularly the use of traditional rulers.

Mr Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote commended the Yobe State government for the remarkable progress made despite insurgency.

They urged the state government to work towards meeting the 2017 targets of countering all the nine child killer diseases.

Dangote pledged to partner the Yobe State government in the reconstruction of the 22 health facilities destroyed in Gujba and Gulani LGAs of the state by the Boko Haram militants.

Imo Government Commences First Phase Of Immunization Against Polio

PolioThe Imo State Government has commenced the first phase of the 2016 immunization programme against polio across the 27 Local Government Areas of the state.

Flagging off the campaign at Njaba Local Government Area in Imo State on Saturday, the State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, said that the immunization campaign programme against polio is to once again, dramatize his administration’s zeal in delivering quality health care system for children in the state.

Governor Okorocha said that the programme would deliver children in the state from the hands of the deadly polio disease that had taken the lives of many innocent children over the years.

The Governor noted that the immunization would complement the news that Nigeria is now a polio free country.

He, however, enjoined all parents to take advantage of the immunization programme by the State Government, to immunize their children against polio and other form of diseases.

The Imo State Commissioner for Health, Ngozi Njoku, said that the campaign would go across the 27 local government areas of the state with the flag off in Njaba Local Government Area.

She said that the immunization programme against polio is part of the determination of the Okorocha led administration to affirm the good news that Nigeria is a polio free country.

As the Imo State Government takes the campaign to all the 27 Local Government Areas of the state, it would go a long way to put an end to any issue of polio among children in the state.

Ondo Healthcare: Mimiko Reiterates Commitment To Polio Eradication

Olusegun MimikoThe Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, believes that polio has been totally eradicated in the state and routine immunization should become a subculture of Nigeria’s healthcare system.

Stakeholders on polio eradication and routine immunization held the third quarterly meeting with Governor Mimiko at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office in Akure.

There, he pledged to continue to address the challenges being encountered in the fight against polio in the state.

Governor Mimiko promised that all the materials needed for the successful implementation of the programme would be put in place in the state.

He assured members of the state task force on polio eradication and routine immunization that government would continue to do what is required to keep polio out of the state.

In his speech, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dayo Adeyanju, reiterated the importance of the meeting as it would help get feedback from health workers in the field.

An audio-visual presentation of the scorecard of the routine immunization and polio eradication across the 18 Local Government Areas of the state was showcased by a representative of the partner agencies.

Among the Stakeholders present at the meeting were the Primary Healthcare Coordinators in the 18 Local Government Areas of the state, the directors in the State Ministry of Health, representatives of partner agencies, religious leaders, royal fathers and women groups.

Japan Issues Nigeria $85million Loan To Eradicate Polio

Japan NigeriaThe fight against polio in the country has received additional boost with an 85million dollars loan facility‎ by the Japanese Government.

At a meeting in Abuja, the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Ryuichi Shoji, explained that the loan facility would assist in closing gaps of financial assistance required to achieve zero polio cases in the country.

Speaking about the Japanese Government’s 14 year partnership with the Nigerian Government in the area of polio eradication, he said that the $85 million loan would have preferential interest rate of 0.2% per cent.

“The loan will be utilised for procurement of polio vaccines for children under five years of age,” Mr. Shoji said, adding that this would also have positive impacts on other countries.

“As long as a single child remained infected, children in all countries were at risk of polio”, he said.

Nigeria Country Representative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mairo Mandara, said that Nigeria’s polio eradication efforts have experienced notable progress owing to the political support it has enjoyed.

Revealing conditions surrounding the loan, she said: “After Nigeria has executed the loan agreement, the foundation will commit to repay the loan to Japan on behalf of Nigeria if the required immunisation coverage rates are met.”

On his part, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, promised to ensure prompt provision of vaccines to stamp out the scourge.

“The signing of the MOU is an important milestone for the country. It will help us to ensure the availability of vaccines and timely delivery.

“It is my hope that with the loan, polio will be interrupted this year,” Mr. Chukwu said.

$85 million is about 14billion Naira.

Polio Eradication: President Jonathan Joins Bill Gates

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday, November 11, attended a forum organised by the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication in company of American Inventor and Philanthropist, Bill Gates.

While speaking at the event which also had Nigerian Businessman, Aliko Dangote in attendance, President Jonathan restated the Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring that Polio is eradicated in Nigeria.

“We don’t want to hand over Polio to another government in 2015. With the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote and the Aliko Dangote Foundation and others, with the support of the State Governors I’m seeing here and the Local Government chairmen, I believe we will succeed.”

He also called on politicians across the country to ensure that political activities towards the 2015 General Elections do not affect the Government’s agenda to eradicate the wide polio virus in the country by 2014.

Mr. Bill Gates in his speech commended President Jonathan’s efforts at eradicating Polio in Nigeria, as his presence at the event to support the Presidential Task Force is an indication of his commitment to the cause. He also offered suggestions on how to make the initiative succeed.

The high point of the forum was the conferment of a National Honour of the Commander of the Federal Republic on the Co-Chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates, for his contribution to polio eradication in Nigeria.

Kogi Govt Re-affirms Commitment To Polio Eradication

The Kogi state government has restated its commitment to polio eradication in the state. The governor, Idris Wada stated that his government is doing everything possible to safeguard the health of its citizens with particular attention to children.

 

The Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada

Wada, who disclosed this while speaking at a meeting with members of the Kogi state Task Force on polio eradication routing immunization and primary health care services, also stated that the state government will continue to create an enabling environment to ensure effective service delivery of both prospective and amateur services of the people of Kogi state .

While delivering his opening speech, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Idris Omede told the governor that the task force is expected to review activities in the quarter and to identify best practices, challenges, and to also proffer solutions and recommendations that will ensure permanent polio eradication and attainment of high quality immunization in the state.

The state Epidemiologist, Dr. Funmi Balogun, who highlighted some of the challenges of the task force as low financial commitment to routine immunization and surveillance by the local government chairmen also noted that the state has made achievements in making the state polio free as there are no cases of measles outbreak so far.

Wada assured the people that his administration will continue to implement healthcare policies that will address the health needs of the people.He also promised that his government will continue to fund the free medical services programme for rural dwellers in the state.

In view of the achievement they have recorded so far, the governor called on organizations in the state to support the federation and also run similar healthcare programmes in the state for the benefit of the poor rural dwellers.

Bill Gates Didn’t Cancel Visit Due To Alamieyeseigha’s Pardon – Presidency

The presidency has been reacting to report attributing the cancellation of Bill Gates’ visit to Nigeria to the controversy over state pardon given former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and some other Nigerians.

Gates visits the Bini Community Health Post, in Sokoto in February; the community is one of those combating the polio disease in Nigeria.

The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, who spoke to journalists on the issue, said that he read the report in some sections of the media insinuating that Mr Gates has cancelled his planned visit to Nigeria because of the recent pardon granted some Nigerians.

He said President Jonathan is in touch with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and that this report is not true and that it exists only in the imagination of the writers.

According to Mr Abati the foundation said that Mr Gates travels are often dependent on the schedules and availability of many other people and partners and that in this particular case, because these other people and partners will not be available at the time he is presently scheduled to visit Nigeria, they have to reschedule the visit.

They also said the rescheduling has nothing to do with politics and that it has nothing to do with any domestic situation in Nigeria.

According to the president’s spokesman, the foundation said that Mr Gates has visited Nigeria many times in the past and he will continue to visit the country because his focus is working with the Federal government and partners in Nigeria to eradicate polio.

He said, “Nigerians should note that President Jonathan and Mr Bill Gates have met several times in the past and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is one of the major partners working with Nigerian government to ensure that polio is completely eradicated by 2015.

“What we will like to reassure people is that those who are always looking for opportunity to pull down the country should realise the fact that this country belongs to all of us and that nobody will gain anything by trying to pull down the country.

“Instead, Nigerians should do everything possible to promote their own country regardless of whatever differences that may exist among us: ethnic, religious, sectarian, whatever.”

Jonathan Reaffirms Commitment To Polio Eradication

President Goodluck Jonathan affirmed Thursday at the Presidential Villa that the Federal Government remains fully committed to achieving the total eradication of polio from Nigeria before the end of the tenure of the present administration in 2015.

A child receiving vaccination against polio

Speaking at an audience with a delegation of Rotary International led by the Chairman of the Rotary Foundation Trustees and past President of Rotary International, Wilfrid Wilkinson, President Jonathan said that the Federal Government will take all necessary action and work in close collaboration with its development partners and other stakeholders to overcome the challenges of ignorance, misinformation and security as well as the cultural and religious inhibitions that were currently hindering mass immunization against polio in parts of the country.

President Jonathan said that his administration was actively encouraging pro-polio immunization advocacy by respected religious leaders and traditional rulers as part of a multi-faceted strategy to ensure the success of the nationwide campaign.

“I promise you that we will continue to do our best because I do not want to hand over polio to the next administration,” President Jonathan told the delegation which also included Jonathan Majiyagbe, the first African President of Rotary International.

The leader of the delegation, Mr Wilkinson assured President Jonathan that Rotary International will continue to commit resources and personnel in support of the Federal Government’s efforts to eradicate polio from Nigeria.

President Jonathan had earlier received a Mexican Government delegation which was at the Presidential Villa to seek Nigeria’s support for Mexico’s candidate for the post of Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Welcoming the delegation, President Jonathan noted that the WTO had a very important role to play in global trade and economic development.

President Jonathan told the delegation which was led by Lourdes Aranda Bezaury, a Special Envoy of President Enrique Pena Nieto that Africa needed someone at the WTO’s helm who will positively address the continent’s concerns over the restrictions that currently hinder the export of African products to other part of the world.

Polio: Immunize Your Child Or Go To Jail, Niger State Warns Parents

Apparently worried by the reoccurrence of polio cases in the state, the Niger State government has concluded arrangements to establish mobile courts across the 25 local governments areas in the state to prosecute parents who refused to present their children for immunization.

The Chairman of the state Taskforce on the eradication of polio and Deputy Governor of the state, Ahmed Ibeto who revealed this to Channels Television’s correspondent in Minna, the Niger State capital, said any parent found guilty will be fined N10, 000 or six month imprisonment.

Mr Ibeto further said the state government has commenced a compulsory stop and search of all vehicles at all entry point into the state where children eligible for vaccination will be examined and vaccinated.

He said the police and men of Niger state vigilante groups in all the 25 five local governments area of the state will always accompany the immunisation officers to enforce compliance and forestall harassment.

World Bank approves N15.2 billion for fight against polio in Nigeria

The World Bank’s Board has approved an International Development Association (IDA) credit of N15.2 billion (US$95 million) for the Nigeria Polio Eradication Support Project, which will help the country to achieve and sustain at least 80% polio immunization across all states, supporting the eventual eradication of the disease from Nigeria.

Child receiving the polio vaccine
Nigeria is one of four countries in the world - along with Pakistan, India and Afghanistan - where polio is still a major health risk.

According to the Bank in its website, “the project will finance roughly 655 million doses of oral polio vaccine for children under age five across Nigeria, with a special focus on the northern states where polio is more prevalent.”

The World Bank has worked with Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Agency since 2003 to ensure timely vaccine supply.

As part of a worldwide drive to eradicate polio, this effort builds on Nigeria’s strong performance in recent years, with the number of polio cases falling from 1,100 in 2006 to 62 in 2011.

Nigeria is one of the last three countries in the world where polio is endemic, the others being Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“What we do over the next four years is going to determine whether we will succeed in this historic undertaking to eradicate polio in Nigeria,” Mohamed Pate, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health and Chairman of Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication said.

“We have beaten back the disease to a large extent already, and with the support of our partners, we are gearing up to make the last big push,” he added.

The World Bank polio project continues a “buy-down” arrangement by which the Gates Foundation, the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, and Rotary International (via the UN Foundation), will repay the loan’s present value when pre-agreed results are met.

Of the World Bank’s lending commitments to Nigeria for polio from 2003 to 2012—a total of $195 million—Nigeria has already qualified for a 70 percent buy-down.

“Eradication of polio is now within reach in Nigeria, so we must keep up the momentum to defeat this dreaded disease once and for all,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria.

“Also, we must take in the main lesson from Nigeria’s success against polio, which is that improving outreach and closely involving communities will help build a stronger national health system.”

The new project is aligned with the Federal Government 2012 Polio Eradication Emergency Plan, and with the World Bank’s strategy in Africa, which aims to reduce vulnerability to illness and disability among poor people.

UNICEF deploys 510 volunteers to combat polio in Northern states


As part of the National Polio Eradication Emergency scheme, the United Nation’s Children Fund, UNICEF, has trained and deployed 510 Volunteer Community Mobilisers to Kano, Kebbi and Sokoto states.

According to UNICEF in a statement, “there are a total of 957 volunteer community mobilisers (557 in Kano, 200 in Kebbi and 200 in Sokoto)and they would be fully operational by the end of April 2012.”

“With the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this initiative will contribute to reducing the percentage of missed children through targeted interventions house-to-house to generate demand for and acceptance of oral polio vaccine…this initiative will be expanded to Zamfara, Jigawa and Borno by June 2012, and Katsina and Yobe by August 2012 ,depending on funds availability.” the agency also said.

UNICEF further disclosed that 2,150 settlement level volunteer mobilisers in total, will be recruited, trained and deployed in the settlements where missed children and refusals to oral polio vaccine are still persistent.

Nigeria is one of four countries in the world – along with Pakistan, India and Afghanistan – where polio is still a major health risk.  In November 25, 2011, Nigeria recorded 43 cases of wild poliovirus compared to 14 cases in the same time period in 2010. In the first nine months of 2011, the country reported more cases than in the whole of 2010.

Also, Nigeria remains the only polio-endemic country in Africa. The first case of wild poliovirus (WPV3) in 2012 in the country was reported on 14th January, 2012 from Sokoto State.