FEDERAL Government’s concerted effort to completely kick out wild polio virus from the country today received a boost of $33.3m from the Government of People’s Republic of Japan through the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria office.
The new funding is considered a welcome development that will contribute to the to emergency efforts in Nigeria and Lake Chad region to prevent spread of polio especially among children recovering from the Boko Haram insurgency.
UNICEF’s Chief of Communication, Doune Porter in a statemnt describes Japan’s donation as a welcoming development and response to the urgent need to increase immunity to polio in the Northeast region.
Japan’s contribution she said, was made out of the countrt’s supplementary budget to purchase polio vaccines, conduct house-to-house polio vaccination campaigns and support efforts to mobilize communities for vaccination in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
The need to reach out for external support by Nigeria is due to the inability of government to meet up with the needed services for the people of the region.
UNICEF recalls that last August re-emergence of the wild polio virus in Borno State was as a result of the fact that the conflict in the northeast area has led to large areas of the state being cut off from health services and many displaced persons who had fled their homes could not be reached by vaccinators.
National Governments in the region, in collaboration with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), comprising the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), have been implementing emergency vaccination campaigns throughout the region to rapidly raise childhood immunity to the polio virus and guard against further spread.
Responding to the donation, UNICEF’s Representative, Mohamed Fall thanked the Japanese people for the generous grant.
According to him, “This funding fills an urgent need in supporting the ongoing polio vaccination campaigns. It will bring Nigeria back to being within reach of eradicating polio and will protect its neighbours against the spread of the virus”, said Fall.
Most of the funding, approximately US$27 million, will be used in Nigeria.
Japan is one of the champion donors to the GPEI and the Global Health agenda in general, with contributions to polio eradication through UNICEF since 2002 totalling more than US$333 million. This funding – and the leadership provided by both the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s innovative soft loan in partnership with BMGF in Nigeria and Pakistan for polio eradication – has proven instrumental in the historic reduction of wild poliovirus transmission globally.
In 2016, wild poliovirus transmission was limited to just 37 cases globally in the three remaining polio-endemic countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This year, to date, only two cases have been recorded worldwide, both in Afghanistan. However, while the opportunity of finally eradicating polio is real, the risk remains.
“The Government of Japan recognizes the risk that as long as even one child is infected with the poliovirus anywhere in the world, all children everywhere remain at risk,” said Mr. Sadanobu Kusaoke, Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria. “It is critical to ensure children are vaccinated against this virus until it is eradicated.” he added.
The Government of Japan is also supporting UNICEF’s work in preventing and treating malnutrition among children affected by the conflict in northeast Nigeria.
This year, UNICEF estimates that some 450,000 children will suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition in the three states most affected by the conflict, said Porter.