The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Dangote Foundation, as well as the USAID on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with six states in the North to promote routine immunisation.
The governors of Kaduna State, Sokoto State, Yobe, Borno, Kano and Bauchi States signed for their states, while Bill Gate, Aliko Dangote and the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, signed for their organisations.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the occasion, which was held in Kaduna, was to strengthen routine immunisation in Nigeria and end vaccine-preventable deaths of children.
Ehanire said “the initiative is in line with Federal Government’s priority in Public Private Partnerships in improving routine immunisation which was critical to improving primary healthcare in the country.
He pledged Federal Government’s determination to ensure that vaccines were made available at all times across the country.
The Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Agency, Dr Ado Mohammed, appreciated the partnership with the foundations in the past, saying it had helped to save millions of children in the country.
He said “our partnership over the years had successfully assisted in decreasing child mortality by fully introducing vaccines which helped to save 50 per cent deaths in the country.’’
He identified weak data management and human resource availability as some of the challenges that needed to be tackled in order to strengthen the exercise.
In his remarks, Entwistle said the partnership was aimed at ending vaccine-preventable child death in Nigeria.
He explained that “under this partnership, we are helping to increase and sustain high immunisation coverage.
“This occasion demonstrates the willingness and commitment of the governors and organisations to tackle the challenges to achieving the goal.’’
According to him, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s contributions in the areas of health and agriculture have yielded concrete results in Nigeria.
He noted that “in the area of polio, the Foundation provided invaluable guidance and constant oversight as Nigeria pushes to rid the land of this disease.’’
He said that “each year, we provide more than 600 million U.S. dollars to address serious health issues such as child mortality, maternal and newborn health, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Nigeria.
“Our ultimate goal is to end preventable child and maternal death and to achieve an AIDS-free generation.’’
Entwistle noted that the MoU would further offer a platform predicated on evidence-based approach, adding that the results would include stronger systems for immunisations and equal access to routine immunisation services.
In his remarks, Dangote urged the federal and state governments to take ownership of the immunisation services to enhance access and facilitate quick results.
He said “as you have done for polio, I encourage you to visit a health centre every month for supportive supervision role.’’
He challenged traditional rulers to take a leadership role in ensuring that every child in their communities was immunised .
In their separate remarks, the governors of Bauchi and Kano, Mohammed Abubakar and Abdullahi Ganduje respectively, pledged their commitment to sustaining the progress made so far in saving the lives of children through routine immunisation.
Abubakar said his administration had set aside 16 per cent of its 2016 budget for healthcare, in line with the 2001 Abuja Declaration.
He said the administration had launched free medical care services for children under five and pregnant women.
The governor pledged to strengthen primary healthcare, routine immunisation and reproductive health services.
“We will offer motivation and re-training of front line health workers for 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.’’
On his part, Governor Ganduje of Kano State said previous partnerships with the foundations had helped in offering sustainable services to mothers and children in the state.
Bill Gates and Dangote had earlier visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja where they signed Updated Abuja Commitments on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization.
The intervention, targetted at ending under-nutrition in Nigeria, is worth $100 million.