Nigerian govt., Bill Gates, Others sign Polio Agreement

The federal and state governments on Wednesday signed an “updated Abuja commitment” on polio eradication in Nigeria.

The Abuja commitment, which was first signed in 2009 and revalidated in 2011, is an accountability tool conceived to ensure governors keep their side of the bargain towards total eradication of polio in Nigeria.

Nigeria finally exited the list of polio endemic countries in 2015 and is currently working at attainment of total eradication by 2019.

Signing the new Abuja Commitment, state governors and local government chairmen expressed their commitments to rapid response to polio outbreak, advance quarterly release for polio campaigns and quarterly meetings with stakeholders.

The executive secretary of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Ado Mohammed, however decried lack of commitment to polio throughout 2015.

According to him, while five states fully achieved the four key indicators, six states could not implement a single-state level “Abuja Commitment”.

He said the four of the five states that kept to the commitment were high-risk states that include Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano and Kaduna, as well as Ondo State, which is a non high-risk state.

Commending Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote and other stakeholders, Mr. Mohammed said the federal government would continue to provide strong oversight and funding for the polio eradication program.

“To this effect, we will reconstitute an expanded Presidential Taskforce on Polio, which will include the 36 states governors to sustain the successes of our current polio eradication activities such as surveillance and routine immunization programs,” he said.

However, six states mostly affected by polio, have signed a memorandum of understanding on routine immunization and strengthening of primary healthcare system through community sensitization and support programs.

Messrs. Dangote and Gates both urged the governors not to give up the battle against polio, which, according to them, is almost won.

They called for an equal level of commitment to the commitment signed.

Chairman Governor’s Forum and governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Yari, who spoke on behalf of the governors, pledged their commitment to the pact.

He said they would do everything possible to ensure Nigeria is polio free in the next two years.