Vice President Kashim Shettima says that the current administration will implement policies to address Nigeria’s two million non-immunised children, which he said are among the highest, globally.
Shettima stated this at a parley with some governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja
Addressing the issue of vaccine production for the immunisation of children, Shettima assured that President Bola Tinubu’s administration will address concerns that surround financing the nation’s primary healthcare system in the country.
“We are going to work together to ensure that these vaccines are made available even to zero-dose children, of which ours, at two million, are the highest in the world after India.
The vice president while also noting that polio has remained 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.”
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 percent in 2016 to 57 percent in 2021.
He stated further that “the variant polio virus has declined in Nigeria by 84 percent from 2021, falling to fewer than 200 cases in 2022. He, therefore, commended the states that have achieved high-category immunisation coverage, which is between 60 percent and 80 percent of the target demographic and the number of states has expanded from 12 to 21 states in five years
“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-immunised infants in the world over the last decade.”
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 immunisation campaigns.”
He expressed appreciation of the Federal Government to partners such as Aliko Dangote’s Foundation and Bill Gates Foundation, whose empathy shone through that uncertain period in our history.
Earlier in his remarks at the interactive session, 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 immunisation in Nigeria, and the global polio eradication initiative in Northern Nigeria.
Also, 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 immunisation, 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 achieve sustainable development goals,” he added.
In their separate remarks, the chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum and governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, and others, 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.