Health Ministry unveils strategies aimed at complete eradication of the disease

The federal government has resolved to immunise every child in the country against polio by partnering with traditional rulers and philanthropists.

The Minister of State for Health, Muhammad Pate, stated this in Abuja on Thursday during a roundtable discussion with journalists and executives of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on polio eradication.

?There has never been this commitment by the government to eradicate polio in the country,? he said. ?President Goodluck Jonathan sees polio eradication as key to improving health system. One of the key components of saving one million lives by 2015 is polio eradication.?

Pate said Nigeria would take example from a country like India as it had not recorded any case of polio for the past 22 months.

He said Indian success story was due to good information system, macro plan, tracking of migrants and ensuring that every new born was captured.

According to him, the negative perception about the vaccine used as family planning has drastically reduced. ?The most important thing is that effort is being made to reach every child and I have seen a tremendous process in polio eradication this year,? he said.

Responding, Jeff Raikes, the Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, said eradicating polio in the country was fundamental to reducing other diseases.

Raikes said the foundation had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kano State Government and Dangote Foundation to eradicate polio in the state. He said the MoU was for three years to improve routine immunisation and primary health care in Kano; with a goal of reaching 80 per cent coverage with basic vaccine by 2015.

?The foundation?s specific areas of focus in Nigeria include achieving polio eradication, strengthening routine childhood immunisation programme, improving access to safe, timely, and appropriate treatment of childhood disease,? he said. ?Others are ensuring that women are empowered to seek healthcare during pregnancy and have improved access to contraceptive.?

Also speaking, Christopher Elias, the President of the foundation, called for more political commitment, noting that the there were still challenges in the local government areas.

He urged local government leaders to be more committed in the fight against polio eradication and also called for good routine immunisation system in the country.

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