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Bill Gates announces $7 billion intervention to support polio eradication in Nigeria

Bill Gates, the Chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has announced a commitment of $7 billion to Africa over the next four years. The funds will be utilized to support routine immunization efforts in Nigeria and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, particularly in Northern Nigeria.

Gates made the announcement during a meeting with governors under the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. He emphasized the significance of the decisions made by the National Economic Council (NEC) in determining Nigeria’s economic growth, citizen well-being, and achievement of sustainable development goals.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a business mogul, highlighted the longstanding partnership between the Dangote Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the federal and state governments in Nigeria. Their collaboration has been focused on eradicating polio, improving routine immunization, nutrition, primary healthcare, education, agriculture, and human capital development.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum chairman, Alhaji Abdulraman Abdulrasaq, and other governors praised the philanthropic interventions of the Dangote and Gates Foundations across critical sectors. They expressed their readiness to continue collaborating with the foundations in the years ahead.

Vice President Kashim Shettima, addressing the financing concerns of the primary healthcare system in Nigeria, acknowledged polio as a significant healthcare challenge. He proposed timely domestic financing for vaccine procurement to strengthen the country’s industrial capacity for vaccine production.

Shettima highlighted the progress made in Nigeria’s polio eradication efforts, with a notable improvement in pentavalent vaccine coverage and a significant decline in variant poliovirus cases. He commended the states that achieved high immunization coverage and expressed the government’s commitment to transparency and a comprehensive approach to address the country’s non-immunized infants.

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The vice president assured that the federal government aims to eradicate the variant poliovirus by the end of the year, ensuring comprehensive immunization coverage for all Nigerian children. He also pledged to work towards making vaccines available even to children who have not received any doses.

Shettima expressed gratitude to partners like the Dangote Foundation and the Bill Gates Foundation for their support during challenging times in Nigeria’s history, emphasizing their empathy and contributions to the country’s progress.