Polio eradication: WHO applauds efforts by Niger State
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa has commended the efforts of the Niger State Government towards the eradication of poliomyelitis in the state.
The commendation was made by the coordinator of the WHO polio eradication initiative, Dr. Jamal Ahmed, when he led a team of experts in the health sector on a courtesy visit to Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago and was received by the Deputy Governor, Comrade Yakubu Garba, on behalf of the Governor, in his office on Thursday.
He informed the governor that the team was in the state to review the progress made by the state government in stopping the outbreak of variant polio viruses that have affected not only the state but also states like Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto in the sub-region.
Dr. Jamal said from what they had witnessed so far, the Niger State Government has established a very solid structure at both the state level, local government area, and ward level, which is helping to coordinate in trying to reach the settlement of every child.
He revealed that WHO had spent not less than N1.1 billion in Niger State through its various support programmes, eradicating some vaccine-preventable diseases such as poliomyelitis and measles, advocating for more funding for primary healthcare, and strengthening coordination activities in the state.
Dr. Jamal, who also observed that whatever affects Nigeria usually affects the remaining African countries, disclosed that the assessment exercise is a nationwide project currently going on in 10 other states, aside from Niger State, with the aim of taking stock of the level of response to the outbreak.
"The goal is to take stock of where we are on the outbreak response assessment and see what more we can do to reach more children, protect more children, and ensure that polio is completely out of Nigeria," said Dr. Jamal.
He added that Nigeria had made remarkable progress in reducing the new variant of polio by over 95 percent in the last 12 months, saying Nigeria is on track to eradicating the last tream and making Nigeria free from all treams of poliomyelitis.
Responding, the governor, who spoke through his deputy, Comrade Yakubu Garba, assured the team that the state will not be found wanting in terms of funding the health sector, especially primary healthcare, as it is one of the top priorities of the present administration in the state, hence the rationale behind creating the ministry of primary healthcare in the state.
He added that counterpart funding was not a problem for the present administration as it had cleared all counterpart funds for various health programmemes in the state and directed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry to verify and forward if there is any health programme for which counterpart funds are yet to be paid.
The governor, while appreciating WHO for its support to the health sector in the state, said, like Oliver Twist, they need more support to do better in areas where they are doing well and where they are lagging behind, urging the team to feel free to carry out the assessment exercise they are in the state for.