Gates commits $7 billion to polio eradication in northern Nigeria

Gates Foundation has committed $7 billion to immunizatuon programme and polio eradication in northern Nigeria as the Vice President Kashim Shettima pledged that the Federal Government will address the concerns that surround the financing of our primary healthcare system in the country.

The Vice President who noted that polio is one of the major primary healthcare challenges in the country disclosed that “the proposal is to provide timely domestic financing for the procurement of vaccines, which couldn’t have come sooner, to boosting our industrial capacity to produce vaccines.”

A statement from the Prwsidency quoted Shettima as stated this on Thursday at a parley with some Governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

While acknowledging the threats facing Nigeria in the area of polio, he averred that Nigeria’s three dose pentavalent vaccine coverage has improved from 33% in 2016 to 57% in 2021.

He stated further that “the variant polio virus has declined in Nigeria by 84% from 2021, falling to fewer than 200 cases in 2022. He therefore commended the states that have achieved high category immunization coverage, which is between 60% and 80% of the target demographic and the number of states has expanded from 12 to 21 states in five years.”

Giving further assurance, he said, “the Federal Government and our respective state governments are going to set in place a transparent process and structure to undo the reality of the country as one with one of the highest proportions of non-immunized infants in the world over the last decade.”

Vice President Shettima stressed that the Federal Government is “committed to eradicating variant poliovirus by the end of the year ensuring that every Nigerian child is covered in the routine immunization campaigns.”

On the issue of production of vaccines for immunization of children, he assured that “we are going to work together to ensure that these vaccines are made available even to zero-dose children, of which ours, at 2 million, are the highest in the world after India.”

The Vice President then expressed the appreciation of the Federal Government to partners such as Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s Foundation and that of Bill Gates Foundation, whose empathy shone through that uncertain period in our history.

Earlier in his remarks at the interactive session, Mr. Bill Gates disclosed that his foundation had recently announced the intention to commit $7 billion to Africa in the next four years; to support routine immunization in Nigeria, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Northern Nigeria.

Also in his remarks, Alhaji Aliko Dangote stated that Bill Gates and himself have been partnering with both the Federal and State Governments for several years, supporting the efforts in eradicating polio and improving routine immunization, nutrition and primary healthcare in the country.

“We genuinely believe that the National Economic Council and the decisions that you will make over the next four years will determine whether Nigeria has sound economic growth, keep its citizens happy and achieving the sustainable development goals,” he added.

In separate remarks, the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulraman Abdulrasaq and some Governors who spoke at the parley lauded the philanthropic interventions of the Dangote and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations in critical areas including healthcare, education, agriculture and human capital development. The Governors expressed the readiness to further collaborate with the Dangote and Gates Foundation in the coming years.

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