Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, says even though the World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Nigeria as polio-free, the country must not relent in efforts to immunise children.
He made this remark on Thursday evening, during a virtual meeting on the Kano State Health System Strengthening Programme. Participants also included the state governor, Abdullahi Umar Gnduje; chairman, Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote; Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; and other key public health officials.
“Our Polio work is not done, We still have the vaccine for Wild Polio and we need to maintain immunization in case Polio escapes from the two countries in Asia where it still exists,” Gates stressed, according to a statement issued on Friday by Director-General of Media and Public Relations to the Kano State Governor, Ameen K. Yassar.
He urged the state government to strengthen its routine immunisation efforts by engaging traditional leaders to sustain the accomplishments recorded during past anti-polio campaigns. He added that the state should also support its Primary Health Care programme to ensure community wellbeing.
“I am pleased to hear that the Kano State Task Force on immunisation also includes Primary Health Care as its focus,” he said.
Gates observed that the state has, since 2012, not failed to fulfil its obligations to contribute to the health basket fund and encouraged the government to continue in this practice.
Dangote said he was happy with how the state government managed the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kano has shown the world what it can do to respond to emergencies. The same way you and your team kept your energy going with Polio, I urge you to keep it going with your COVID-19 response,” the business tycoon said, assuring that his foundation would keep supporting the government in its immunisation and primary healthcare programmes.
Ganduje told the participants his government will continue to prioritise investments in healthcare delivery.
“Kano state will also strive to scale up strengthening of 2–way referral linkages between primary and secondary health care facilities,” he said.
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