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Nigeria receives $14 million from Rotary International to fight Polio

Rotary International, in its unwavering dedication to safeguarding every child from the devastating effects of poliovirus, has generously donated a grant of $14 million to the Nigerian government. This substantial contribution aims to support polio surveillance activities and effectively curb the spread of all poliovirus strains throughout the nation.

The implementation of this grant will be overseen by the World Health Organization (WHO), ensuring that Nigeria remains steadfast in its efforts to sustain the progress made in eradicating wild poliovirus and combat the Circulating Variant Poliovirus (cVPV2) within its borders.

Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the WHO Country Representative, warmly welcomed this new grant and emphasized the pivotal role surveillance plays in achieving health security. He expressed his appreciation to the minister for entrusting WHO to collaborate with the government, stakeholders, and partners in pursuing the health agenda. This renewed hope is further bolstered by the new health sector renewal and investment initiative, with health security being a crucial component.

Furthermore, Dr. Mulombo extended his gratitude to Rotary International for their invaluable contribution. He stressed the significance of eliminating all forms of poliovirus in Nigeria when addressing health security concerns. He assured that the organization is fully committed to utilizing the funding effectively, ensuring utmost efficiency, transparency, and accountability. Moreover, he emphasized the importance of safeguarding against any misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, towards the community they serve.

The grant will support the efforts to monitor and track polio until Nigeria achieves its goal of eradicating all forms of the virus. The focus is on eliminating CVPVD2, and surveillance plays a crucial role in this intervention.

During the grant presentation in Abuja, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, emphasized that the support for polio surveillance will enhance health security and strengthen Nigeria’s capacity to promptly detect and respond to other infectious diseases that could pose a threat to national and global security.

The minister expressed his appreciation to Rotary International for their unwavering support and solidarity in Nigeria and worldwide. He also acknowledged the significant contributions and partnerships of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, including WHO, in Nigeria’s successful interruption of wild polio virus transmission.

The success story of polio eradication in Nigeria is a collective achievement for the country. It serves as a foundation for Nigeria’s efforts to revitalize the healthcare sector and prioritize the well-being of its population. In line with this, the President launched the health sector renewal investment initiative in December, aiming to save lives, utilize resources effectively, and improve health outcomes for all Nigerians.

The Minister highlighted the commendable work done by WHO in the field of surveillance and expressed the belief that with the resources provided, even more can be accomplished. It is important to note that while Nigeria was certified as wild poliovirus-free in August 2020, the country still faces the challenge of cVPV2. Poliovirus remains highly contagious, and a single case can lead to an outbreak of international concern.

Despite the progress made, the surveillance data indicates that the virus continues to circulate in certain states of the North-West zone, particularly Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, and Katsina, which are now referred to as the Axis of Intractable Transmission.

Joshua Hassan, Chairman of the Nigeria Rotary Polio Plus Committee, emphasized the organization’s dedication to assisting Nigeria in eliminating all forms of poliovirus within the country. During his statement, Mr. Hassan presented checks to the Coordinating Minister and clarified that these grants, facilitated by the World Health Organization (WHO), aim to enhance surveillance and provide technical support to the Ministry of Health in their efforts to eradicate polio.

Mr. Hassan revealed that the Rotary Foundation Trustees approved a grant of US$2,675,000.00 in July 2023 to aid polio eradication in Nigeria through WHO Nigeria’s surveillance program for tracking CVPV2.

“In addition, another grant of US$4,514,785, dated October 2023, was approved by the Rotary Foundation Trustees for WHO’s surveillance activities. Furthermore, on January 10, 2024, an additional grant of US$6,848,002 was approved for technical assistance, bringing the total amount to US$14,037,787,” Mr. Hassan stated.

Moreover, he highlighted Rotary’s commitment, in collaboration with the Nigeria National Polio Plus Committee, to supporting polio eradication and routine immunization in Nigeria.

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