Nigeria Gets U.S.$125 Million World Bank Funds to Tackle Polio

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said Federal Government had obtained a 125-million-dollar loan from the World Bank to tackle fresh cases of polio and other health challenges in the country.

The minister made this known while briefing the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases on Thursday in Abuja.

Adowole said that with approval of the National Assembly, 60 million dollars would be earmarked for polio, while the remaining 65 million dollars would be used for the procurement of vaccines.

He also disclosed that N10 billion had been released by the Federal Government from the 2016 budget to tackle the epidemic.

While decrying the fresh outbreak, the minister said that about N30 billion would be required to tackle the menace.

He said that following the outbreak, no fewer than 800,000 children under the age of five years had been immunised in five local government areas in Borno.

He said the local government areas, which had a population of about one million people were Jere, Gwoza, Mafa, Maiduguri Municipality and Bama.

“The resurgence of polio is an unusual development and a major setback considering the investment of the international community, and the whole world was looking forward to celebrate Nigeria next year.

“I wasn’t expecting polio as a challenge; I was expecting teenage pregnancy and other health challenges,” he said.

Adewole said the ministry was working with relevant stakeholders to search for more cases, adding that “we want to assume there could be many more of the cases, we are looking for more cases”.

He added that the ministry had flagged off response channels while the team monitoring and managing the disease was working to ensure that it was nipped in the bud.

According to him, the ministry will embark on six-round response programmes to immunize children under five in the whole of the country and neighbouring countries, to ensure that every potential child is immunized.

Adewole disclosed that 300 million doses of vaccine were required to be able to carry out immunization in the country to curtail the spread of the virus.

He, however, said that only 100 million doses of vaccine were on ground, adding that measures would be put in place to make up the required doses.

He stated that the ministry was toiling with the idea of administering injectable vaccines in view of its efficacy, particularly in Borno, rather than relying solely on oral vaccine.

The minister however said that plans to curb the disease could change depending on subsequent developments.

He also said that due to the security situation in the North-East, the medical team from the military had equally been deployed to assist experts from the ministry.

On recent case of Lassa fever that claimed the life of a medical doctor in Delta, the minister said that measures were being put in place to curb further spread.

He also disclosed that the ministry was working with relevant agencies to check Zika disease, which was already prominent in Brazil.

Chairman of the committee, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa, urged the ministry to embark on more sensitisation and advocacy.

He expressed displeasure with the ministry for not involving the legislature before now.

“If we didn’t initiate this meeting, we would not have been carried along.

” I expect that immediately you had this outbreak, you alert us and say areas we could collaborate with you to alert state assemblies for sensitisation,” he said.

He pledged the committee’s support to the ministry in tackling challenges in the health sector.

Source: Daily Trust

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