AfricaHealth & FitnessNigeria

Buhari hails resilient spirit of Nigerians as Polio declared free

By Oluwaseun Sonde

President Muhammed Buhari has congratulated Nigerians as the country attains the historic status of being free from the Wild Polio Virus while attributed the achievement to the resilient spirit of Nigerians, in particular the strength and capacity of the health workers, who drew resources and support from multiple sectors to deal a final blow to the Virus.

In a statement released from the State House, Abuja on Monday, over the Nigeria’s attainment of Wild Polio Free Status, the President said so many partners, local and international, have contributed tirelessly to this feat, government are deeply grateful to each and every one of them.

He added that this achievement is not only one of the great successes of this generation of Nigerians but also one of the obvious dividends of this administration, which is consistent with the progressive investment in the health of Nigeria people since 2015. “This landmark achievement is also a promise kept to all Nigerians. As you will recall, in August 2015, barely three months after we assumed office, I promised Nigerians that: “My government shall provide the necessary resources and commitment required to strengthen the health system, routine immunization and ensure the country is certified Polio-free.

“When, in 2016, Nigeria suffered a major setback with the outbreak of the Wild Polio Virus in Borno State, after about 2 years without any case, I directed the immediate release of N9.8billion to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to contain the outbreak

Subsequently, we have been meeting all our financial obligations to bilateral and multilateral agreements, and have also provided the moral support and leadership required at all levels to motivate the men and women in the frontline of polio eradication in Nigeria”, he said.

He appreciated the donors and development partners who stood by the country during those trying times. “This achievement of polio free status is a hard-won battle spanning over three decades of hard work and dedication by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Federal, States and Local Governments, polio eradication teams at all levels, our donors and development partners, both local and international

“As we recall, the polio eradication structures were used when Nigeria successfully eradicated Ebola Virus Disease within the shortest possible time in 2014. I am glad that these same human, material and technological resources have been deployed to steadily increase Routine Immunization coverage and are being organized to implement the fight against community transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He further said this big battle would not have been won without the support of the donors and development partners including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Rotary International, United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), European Union, Global Health Canada, German Development Bank (KfW), WHO, UNICEF, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Polio Survivors Group, the media, and faith-based and other non-governmental organizations”.

He acknowledged the immense contribution of traditional and religious leaders who mobilized communities to accept the immunization program and other government programs. “The final theatre of the polio eradication fight was particularly championed by the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Polio Eradication and Primary Health Care (NTLC) under the guidance of His Highness, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Saad Abubakar, and the strategic leadership of the late Shehu of Bama, Alh. Kyari Ibn Umar El-Kanemi”.

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