6 Northern States, Bill Gate, USAID, Dangote, sign MoU on immunization
By; Abdull-Azeez Ahmed Kadir, Kaduna.
Six Northern States today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bill Gate and Melinda Dangote Foundations as well as United State Action Aid (USAID), to promote routine immunization to eliminate the virus completely by the year 2017.
The MoU was signed in Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna with the governors of the six states and prominent Northern Traditional rulers in attendance.
The governors of Kaduna, Sokoto, Yobe, Borno, Kano, and Bauchi States signed for their states while Bill Gate, Aliko Dangote and US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle signed for their organisations.
Speaking after the signing, Entwistle said the partnership was in line with the pursuit to end vaccine-preventable child diseases and death in Nigeria.
“Under this partnership, we are helping to increase and sustain high immunization coverage. This occasion demonstrates the willingness and commitment of the governors and organizations to tackle the challenges to achieving these goals,” he stressed.
According to the Ambassador, Bill and Melida Gate foundation’s contribution in the areas of health and agriculture have yielded positive results in Nigeria and beyond.
“In the area of Polio, the foundation’s influence provided invaluable guidance and constant oversight as Nigeria pushes to rid the land of this disease,” the Ambassador enthused.
He stressed that the Foundations’ support has expanded to include the entire immunization programme, ensuring that its investment in Nigeria will save more lives. “The Dangote Foundation has provided much needed assistance in the areas of health, education and empowerment,” he added.
He added that the US government unrelentleslessly seeks opportunities to partner with Nigerian in tackling challenges of the country’s development and growth.
“Each year, we provide more than 600 million US dollars in the programme to address serious health issues, such as child mortality, maternal and newborn health, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and tuberculosis. Our ultimate goal is to end preventable child and maternal death and to achieve an AIDs-free generation” Entwistle assured.
He explained further that the MoU offers model platform predicated on evidence-based approach, adding that the results would include stronger systems for immunizations, equal access to routine immunization services.
Dangote in his remarks called on the federal and state governments to take ownership of the immunisation services to enhance access and facilitate quick results.
“As you have done for polio, I encourage you to visit a health centre every month for supportive supervision role,” he said. He advised traditional rulers to play “a leadership role in ensuring that every child in their community is immunized.”
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehahire said the occasion was meant to strengthen routine immunization in Nigeria and end vaccine preventable death among children.
“This initiative is in line with the government priority in public private partnerships in improving routine immunization which is critical to improving primary health care in the country” he stressed.
Ehanire commended the Foundations for their efforts in improving health care service delivery over the years in Nigeria and assured them of the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration in improving basic access to health care delivery. He added that the partnership is to strengthen routine immunizaition in the nation while pledging the Federal Government’s resolve to ensure that vaccines were made available at all times across the nation.
The Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Agency, Dr Ado Mohammed applauded the partnership with the foundations in the past, saying it had helped to save millions of lives of children in the country.
“They have successfully decreaseed child mortality by fully introducing vaccines which help save 50 per cent deaths in the country” he asserted.
Muhammed identified weak data management and human resource availability as some of the challenges that needed to be overcome in order to strengthen the exercise.
In their separate remarks, the governors of Bauchi, Borno and Kano, Mohammed Abubakar, Shettima KAshim and Abdullahi Ganduje respectively, pledged their commitment to sustaining the progress made thus far in saving the lives of children through routine immunization.
Abubakar said his administration had set aside 16 per cent of its 2016 budget for healthcare in line with the 2001 Abuja Declaration. He revealed that the administration had launched a free medical care services for children under five and pregnant women
The governor pledged to strengthen primary healthcare, routine immunization and reproductive services for new born. “We will offer motivation and re-training of front line health workers for effective quality service delivery. We are devoted to fulfilling our financial contribution up to 50 per cent in the first quarter and the rest will follow immediately he reiterated.
Shettima on his part said not just immunization, but hospitals, agriculture education and poverty alleviation issues were presented to the personalities. He stressed that Dangote has aided internally displaced persons (IDPs) with 250 million naira and food stuff worth about one billion naira.
“We are quite elated and we are all irrevocably committed to this partnership, and by the grace of God, by the year 2017, this albatross on the neck of Northern Governors will be over. The issue of polio, we will get out of unenviable club and leave Afghanistan, Pakistan to struggle on. All of us are committed; I will assure you of that” he stressed.
On his part, Ganduje said previous partnership with the Foundations initially was with Kano and Bauchi States, but now have to extend it to the six because of their contiguity and to ensure the complete elimination of the wild polio virus. We are moving to own the system 100 per cent. I cannot tell you the actual figure that is being committed, but a large sum of money has been committed and we have seen the result on ground.
“I feel honoured, motivated and we feel encouraged because it has given room again to consolidate more and the disease can finally be eradicated in the Northern States and Nigeria” he assured.
The Northern Traditional institution was led to the meeting by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abuabakr Sa’ad III. He was supported by the Shehu of Borno, Emirs of Kano, Fika, Bauchi among others including the Chief of Kagoro Chief Bonat Afauwai.