sokoto—In a bid to get Nigeria certified polio free, six states in the Northern Nigeria and prominent traditional rulers from the region have renewed commitment to delivering life-saving vaccines to their children through routine immunization, as part of their partnerships with the Dangote Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other developmental partners to get rid of polio from the nation.

Consequently, governors of Sokoto, Borno, Bauchi, Kaduna, Yobe and Kano states have signed extension of an existing Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with the partners in Sokoto.

The MoU which focuses on primary health care delivery will enable the six states to immunize 80 percent of their target population with routine immunization .

Elsewhere at a separate meeting at the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, the traditional rulers as well as community leaders under the aegis of National Traditional Leaders Committee, NTLC, expressed their readiness to roll out a new strategy to improve demand for Routine Immunization, RI, and ensure the Wild Polio Virus (WPV) is eliminated in Nigeria.

The MoU extension endorsed by the governors, which started in 2015, has contributed to improvements in immunization financing, community engagement and vaccine availability.

The new MoU will run from 2018 through 2022 and aims at providing routine immunization to prevent common childhood diseases and ensure a polio-free environment. The MoU also represents the states’ broader ambitions to improve primary health care (PHC).

At the signing ceremony in Sokoto State Government House, Chairman of the Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said: “We are delighted that the Memoranda of Understanding have been extended, reaffirming Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Yobe states commitment to the health of their citizens. We will now look forward to seeing this commitment translated into action.”

Dangote promised that he would be ready to further assist the states and urged the states to ensure they execute the MoU to the letter in the interest of the people of the region.

He explained to them how he and Mr. Gates visited neighbouring Chad Republic in an attempt to ensure cross border transmission of the polio virus is avoided by providing assistance to the government of the country to take the preventive measures.

Commenting on the extension of the MoU, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, praised the governors for reaffirming their commitment to tackling preventable diseases.

“These commitments will help improve immunization coverage and ultimately the health and well-being of Nigeria’s children so they can achieve their potential and live full, productive lives,” said Gates.

According to him; “By laying a strong foundation for routine immunization, the governors will help strengthen their primary health care systems that are central to improving the overall health of people in these communities.”

Each of the governors explained how they were able to meet their obligations with respect to funding and coverage of routine immunization as spelt out in the MoU, with Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai signing expression of intent to be part of the agreement.

Meanwhile, National Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) also pledged its commitment to improve healthcare for children who are at risk of contracting the polio virus as this will improve overall family health and development in the country.

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