Nigeria can defeat polio despite challenges —Bill Gates

THE Microsoft co-founder and Nigeria’s benefactor, Mr Bill Gates, has expressed optimism on the capability of Nigeria to defeat polio, despite  challenges of accessing the children in the most vulnerable areas for immunisation.

Gates, who spoke on the Voice of America “Africa 54” programme, last Wednesday, described as disappointing, the two new reported cases of polio in the North-Eastern Nigeria, after so much success in polio eradication, but expressed confidence that the situation would be brought under control.

He, therefore, called for greater partnership with government in the North- Eastern region of  Nigeria to tackle the situation.

“Our main challenge is that we have children, who the vaccinators have a tough time finding. Reaching them in an unsecure environment can be very complex and so, we are going to need great partnership with the state governments in the region, particularly in Borno State,” Gates said.

Speaking on the accessibility to the endemic areas of the country despite the security challenges, the Nigerian Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole, in a release signed by Mrs Boade Akinola, said the troops were accompanying the health workers to the affected areas and children were being vaccinated; adding that the government had declared a polio emergency in the area.

Professor Adewole also said the military medical teams had also joined in reaching the areas, as well as in collaborating on the ongoing vaccination at the various Internally Displaced Persons’camps.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also lent its voice to the capability of the Nigerian government to addressing the issue with a commitment to support the country in eradicating polio at the ongoing Regional Committee meeting in  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.