Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote on Wednesday signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with six northern state governors on improved access to immunisation in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, witnessed the ceremony after community engagement in roundtable and the Northern Traditional Rulers Council (NTRC).
In his address, Bill Gates said all partners were committed to ensuring that maximum number of children were reached, adding that the MoUs were intended to enable states achieve targeted coverage.
“Routine immunisation is crucial to ensuring that every child is protected against vaccine-preventable diseases, helping them achieve their potential and live full, productive lives.
“We are ready to support the states in reaching the targets set out in the MoUs,” he added.
He said with the election season approaching, all hands must be on deck to ensure the targets were met.
He projected that all partners were committed to reaching at least 80 per cent coverage in 2019.
Gates commended all the signatory-states for their commitment, adding that Nigeria is so far on the right track not just in efforts to fight polio, but on achieving targets in routine immunisation.
“My request is that all the governors should review campaigns and ensure that in the next two years, we complete polio eradication.
“On routine immunisation, the opportunity is fantastic vaccinations are phenomenal on their impacts. We can prevent millions of deaths by doing work on routine immunisation.’’
According to him, the MoU will facilitate more good works on immunisation, manpower training and better management, urging traditional leaders and government to redouble efforts to sustain the achievements.
On his part, Dangote emphasised the need for governments to be updated on the payment of their counterpart funds and to work hard on improving data especially at the grassroots level.
“We are delighted that the MoU have been extended, reaffirming Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Yobe states’ commitment to the health of their citizens. Our expectation now is that this commitment will be translated into concrete action,”
He commended the Federal and State Governments for working on data improvement and for renewing their commitments to tackling preventable diseases.
He said inclusion of primary healthcare development programmes would also translate in increased community commitment as local government chairmen and district heads were participating on routine immunisation meetings during campaigns.
The governors are Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Kashim Shettima, Borno; Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano; Muhammed Abubakar, Bauchi, and Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, while Yobe Gov. Ibrahim Geidam was represented by Dr Bello Kawu at the signing ceremony in Sokoto.