Disease eradication seems to be the ‘IN’ thing in Africa’s health sector. Maybe it is a conscious development, maybe it’s not but in all, it’s a good thing for us all. On Wednesday, January 20th, the world famous Microsoft founder, Bill Gates visited Kaduna State, Nigeria to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, over polio eradication. This mutual agreement is expected to improve routine immunization and eventually lead to the complete eradication of polio in Nigeria.
Last year in September, WHO declared Nigeria a non-endemic polio country. However, the idea is to be completely rid the disease in all communities- urban and rural alike. The World Health Organization report has this to say about recent developments in Nigerian polio eradication,
“Nigeria has not reported a case of wild poliovirus since 24 July 2014, and all laboratory data have confirmed a full 12 months have passed without any new cases.
With the vision of a total polio eradication by 2019, the two billionaires have come together to support what we consider an almost won fight against the virus. They met in Kaduna and were received by the State governor, Nasir El Rufai, 5 other northern governors of Sokoto, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, kano, and local government chairmen whose constituencies are still affected by polio. These areas will be receiving appropriate contribution and support from the mutual partnership of Bill and Melinda, and Dangote Foundations.
Also present for the occasion was United States Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle and the executive secretary of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Ado Mohammed. Both men assured all who were gathered of support from the federal government and the United States.
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While Ado Mohammed expressed dismay on the spotted lapses in the polio fight in the past year, Bill Gates implored the present dignitaries, governors especially, to help in the provision of the essential necessities to achieve great results in kicking out polio permanently from the country.
From all that were said at the signing, it appears the root cause of the decline in the standard of immunization in the country lies in the insufficiency of health work items and vaccines. As such there is a lapse in the immunization coverage. Hopefully, things will change as these billionaires’ philanthropy comes to the rescue.