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Monday, October 26, 2015

Polio: Rotary donates N1.37b to sustain immunization in Nigeria

Rotary Club International has donated an additional US$6.9 million, about N1.37 billion to support immunization activities and surveillance in Nigeria, NaijaAgroNet reports.

This was coming on the heels of historic success against polio in Nigeria and across the continent of Africa even as the battle  against polio is being spearheaded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

This was the year when three became two, with the World Health Organization removing Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries, leaving just Afghanistan and Pakistan remaining. With no case of wild poliovirus (WPV) reported since 24 July 2014, more than a year has passed with no samples testing positive for WPV across the entire country. This achievement is a tribute to the hard work of countless health care workers, traditional leaders, over 400,000 volunteers and the government who managed to turn the programme in Nigeria around by reaching over 45 million children repeatedly with polio vaccines.

Polio is on track to become the second human disease ever to be eliminated from the world (smallpox is the first). To date, Rotary has helped 194 countries stop the transmission of polio through the mass immunization of children. Rotary’s new funding commitment, announced in advance of the Oct. 24 observance of World Polio Day 2015, targets countries where children remain at risk of contracting this incurable, but vaccine-preventable, disease.

The Chairman of Rotary's Nigeria National Polio Plus Committee, Tunji Funsho said, “No child is safe from the polio virus until no more polio virus exists on this planet. As we celebrate world polio day in a time when we have been removed from the list of polio endemic countries we must remain vigilant and ensure that all children are immunised.”

Rotary is contributing  $26.8 million to African countries to ensure the disease never returns to the continent: Burkina Faso ($1.6 million), Cameroon ($2.7 million), Chad ($2.6 million), Democratic Republic of Congo ($499,579), Equatorial Guinea ($685,000), Kenya ($750,102), Madagascar ($562,820), Mali ($1.5 million), Niger ($3 million), Nigeria ($6.9 million), Somalia ($4.9 million) and South Sudan ($1.5 million) In total, Rotary gives $40.4 million to end polio worldwide.

Rotary provides grant funding to polio eradication initiative partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which work with the governments and Rotary members in polio-affected and high-risk countries to plan and carry out immunization activities.

Cyriacus Nnaji/GEE
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