Tony Ailemen, Abuja
Federal and State Governments Wednesday, signed an updated Abuja Commitment , on polio eradication, with President Muhammadu Buhari assuring of stronger commitment to rejig strategies that will ensure the sustenance of a polio free Nigeria.
The President who commended the last administration for successful de-listing Nigeria from the list of polio endemic country, described the achievement as “enormous achievement for our country that should not be understated” adding that “It clearly shows that through sheer commitment, hard work and having the right partnerships, we can succeed.”
” I would like to assure you that the Federal government will continue to provide strong oversight and funding for polio 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.”
President Buhari who chaired the occasion at the signing of the new commitment at the Presidential Villa, Abuja said the Federal government will continue to provide strong oversight and funding for the polio eradication program.
As part of the new Abuja Commitment, State Governors and Local Government Chairmen have vowed to guarantee rapid, emergency response in the event of any polio outbreak.
They have also committed advanced quarterly release of state and LGA counterpart funds for the polio campaigns, and quarterly meetings with Traditional Leaders, LGA Chairmen and State Immunisation Task Force to keep polio on ‘front burner’.
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 the total eradication of polio from Nigeria.
Nigeria finally exited the list of polio endemic countries in 2015 and is currently working at ensuring that it attains total eradication by 2019, if no single case is recorded,
While five states fully achieved the four key indicators, six states could not implement a single-state level Abuja commitment in the court quarter of 2015. Four of the five states that kept to the commitment were high risk states; Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano and Kaduna as well as Ondo which is a non high risk state.
He commended Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote , National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the WHO, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC, USAID, Rotary, Faith based organizations, Traditional Rulers, vaccinators and caregivers for their commitment,
“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.
Six states mostly impacted by polio have signed a memorandum of understanding , MoU on routine immunization. The MOU is a commitment by State Governments, namely Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Sokoto and Yobe, to strengthen Primary Health care system through community sensitization and support programs.
The President called on all state governors, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and the Federal Ministry of Health to sustain this momentum to ensure that the zero polio case status is maintained. He also called on local and international partners to continue supporting the polio eradication programme, stating that “we will succeed. On the matter of preventable diseases, failure is not
Dangote and Gates both urged the governors not to give up when the battle against polio 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 that they would do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria is polio free in the next two years.
The Executive Secretary of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Ado Mohammed, however berated states for their non performance through 2015