As the federal government seeks enhanced funding solutions for the health sector, global entrepreneur Mr. Bill Gates has announced that his foundation will allocate $7 billion over the next four years to support routine immunization in Nigeria and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Northern Nigeria.
Renowned business tycoon Alhaji Aliko Dangote also expressed his commitment to partnering with both the federal and state governments in their efforts to eradicate polio and improve routine immunization, nutrition, and primary healthcare in Nigeria. Gates and Dangote shared their remarks during a meeting with several governors convened by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
During the gathering, Bill Gates emphasized the importance of the National Economic Council (NEC) and the decisions it will make in driving Nigeria’s economic growth, ensuring citizen welfare, and achieving sustainable development goals.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulraman Abdulrasaq, along with other governors present at the meeting, praised the philanthropic contributions of the Dangote and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations in critical areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, and human capital development. The governors expressed their willingness to further collaborate with these foundations in the future.
Vice President Kashim Shettima, addressing the event, acknowledged the financing challenges faced by Nigeria’s primary healthcare system. He highlighted polio as a major healthcare concern and proposed timely domestic financing for vaccine procurement and boosting the country’s industrial capacity for vaccine production.
Shettima noted that Nigeria has made significant progress in polio eradication, with three-dose pentavalent vaccine coverage improving from 33% in 2016 to 57% in 2021. The variant polio virus has also declined by 84% since 2021, with fewer than 200 cases reported in 2022. The vice president commended the states that achieved high immunization coverage and emphasized the federal government’s commitment to transparent processes and structures to address the country’s high proportion of non-immunized infants.
Reaffirming the government’s dedication to eradicating the variant poliovirus by year-end, Shettima pledged to ensure routine immunization campaigns cover every Nigerian child. Additionally, he emphasized the need to make vaccines accessible to zero-dose children, particularly in Nigeria where there are 2 million non-immunized infants, second only to India.
The vice president expressed gratitude to partners like the Dangote Foundation and Bill Gates Foundation for their unwavering support during challenging times in the country’s history.