The Federal Government yesterday said it would release N9.8 billion for polio vaccines and other related activities, even as it unveiled plans to immunise over 56 million children by November 2016.

The N9.8 billion to be released is exclusive of the N6.5 billion approved by the Ministry of Finance when the polio crisis started. The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this at a briefing in Abuja, said the money would be used to execute the polio response plan developed by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, and its partners. Adewole, however, raised alarm that there was high risk of further spread of the virus due to population movement within and around the states. The response plan, according to the Minister, include five rounds of polio campaign, three of which will be focused on 16 northern states and two to be conducted nationwide.

The campaigns, he noted, would be synchronized with the affected regions and provinces in Chad, Niger and Cameroun. While reiterating that there was enough funds for the polio campaign, the minister explained: “We have enough funds for vaccines. We earmarked N9.8 billion for polio and by Monday, the entire N9.8 billion will be released. ‘’This is inclusive of the earlier N3.5 billion earlier released to the NPHCDA.  When this crisis started, we approached the Minister of Finance for money, and I can assure you that N6.7 billion will be released from the 2016 budget.

“Funding has actually never been an issue. The issue here has to do with access to this population.” The minister also said the federal government had approved a revision of the nation’s robust Wild Polio Virus outbreak response plan, with a plan to immunise over 56 million children by November 2016.