• Govt reconstitutes task force on polio

    American businessman and philantropist Bill Gates (left), President Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Aliko Dangote at the signing and commitment of the Abuja Agreement on Polio Eradication at the State House, Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA
    American businessman and philantropist Bill Gates (left), President Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Aliko Dangote at the signing and commitment of the Abuja Agreement on Polio Eradication at the State House, Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA
    • Dangote, Bill Gates Foundations partner northern govs to eradicate disease 
    AS part of strategies to ensure that Nigeria completely exits the list of polio- endemic countries by 2017, the Federal Government yesterday restated its commitment towards reconstituting the National Task Force on Polio Eradication to enable it function effectively.
    In a speech at the signing of the updated Abuja commitment of polio eradication with state governors at the Presidential Villa Abuja yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari said, under the new deal, all the 36 state governors would be co-opted as members of the task force in view of their strategic positions as leaders of their respective states.
    The signing ceremony was witnessed by the American billionaire and founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, President of Dangote Group of Companies, Dr. Aliko Dangote, the governors of Zamafara, Delta, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kano among others.
    Buhari described the recent successful de-listing of Nigeria as a polio endemic country as an enormous achievement for the country that should not be underestimated.
    Also, at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Kaduna State, Chairman, Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Co-Chairman, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates and the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, joined governors from Kaduna, Sokoto, Yobe and Borno states to launch a new partnership that would commit political and financial resources to strengthen and sustain routine immunisation programmes towards keeping Nigeria polio-free.
    In his reactions, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor I.F Adewole, congratulated the states and partners for making a significant investment in immunisation.
    With the MOUs, the governors would be committed to effective governance, leadership and financial accountability to reduce child illness and death from diseases such as measles, pertussis, and hepatitis through increased routine immunisation in their respective states.The other partners would be expected to bring the financial and technical support needed to operate the programme.
    Meanwhile, all signatories pledged to improve routine immunisation coverage in northern Nigeria systematically and sustainably, especially where vaccine coverage rates were low.
    “Building on their recent success in eliminating polio from the region, Nigerian governors have and will continue to play a vital role in establishing a legacy of sustained commitment to routine immunization,” Dangote said.
    The objective of the MoUs was to reach 80 percent of the target population in the states involved with the necessary life-saving vaccines by December 2018 to prevent common childhood diseases and ensure a polio-free environment.
    In his remarks, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, who spoke on behalf of other six governors said that, “it is evident from the contributions of my colleagues that our key strategy is to ensure that a reliable supply of vaccines is delivered in the right quantities at the right time, with sustained potency to our health facilities.”
    “These MOUs offer the model platform to capitalise on the prospects of evidence-based approaches,” said Ambassador Entwistle.
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