Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that his administration would sustain the momentum for Nigeria’s polio free status and strengthen the primary health care system.
This is even as he applauded the role of world leaders, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad III, the leadership of Jama’atul-Nasirl Islam (JNI) and the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), among others in enabling the country attain the polio-free status.
The free status followed the completion of documentation protocols by the World Health Organization (WHO). It takes at least three years of no new infection to declare a country polio-free. Nigeria’s certification came after over five years of waiting.
In a letter written to world leaders and partners to appreciate their support towards helping Nigeria attain a Wild Polio Virus (WPV) free status, Buhari pledged that his administration would sustain the momentum and strengthen the primary health care system.
President Buhari specifically commended Osinbajo, Chairman Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication, and his team, for making Nigeria proud and saving her children from the scourge of poliomyelitis.
He said: “This is to express our profound appreciation for your leadership of the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization.
“The declaration of Nigeria as a Wild Polio free country is the result of your effective coordination of the Nigerian Polio eradication program through the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization, Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
“Please extend my personal appreciation to all members of the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication for making Nigeria proud and saving her children from the scourge of Poliomyelitis.
“I urge the Taskforce under your leadership to sustain this coordination especially in mobilizing State Governors to provide the needed oversight and resources to sustain the momentum and strengthen the primary health care system by improving routine immunization, maternal, newborn and child health services.
“I urge you to sustain the momentum as I look forward to us leveraging on the polio infrastructure and experience to drive other health interventions,” he wrote in the letter to Prof Osinbajo.
The President also wrote a separate letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanking the European country for decades of financial support to Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) programme in Nigeria through KfW.
“Please be assured that my Government will remain committed and focused to ensuring the needed resources will be provided to sustain the momentum and strengthen the primary health care system of our great Country,’’ the President said in his letter to Chancellor Merkel.
Buhari also thanked traditional and religious leaders, who through their leadership built community trust for the polio programme thereby increasing acceptance and ensuring all eligible children are reached with the polio vaccine.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari also wrote separate letters of appreciation to Bill Gates, the European Union, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, Director, U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund, David Malpass, President, World Bank Group and John Barsa, Acting Administrator, United States Agency for International Development.
Others are, Global Affairs Canada, Professor Shinichi Kitaoka, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the International President, Rotary International.
President Buhari also appreciated the support of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman Aliko Dangote Foundation, Sir (Dr) Emeka Offor and Governor Kayode Fayemi, in his capacity as the Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum.