By Abdallah el-Kurebe
World richest Bill Gates, African richest Aliko Dangote and six northern governors on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding on improved access to immunization across Northern Nigeria.
Governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto; Kashim Shettima of Borno; Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano; Muhammed Abubakar of Bauchi; Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna and Ibrahim Gaidam, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Health signed the MoU at a ceremony in the Government House, Sokoto.
Health Minister, professor Isaac Adewole also witnessed the signing ceremony.
Delivering the opening remarks, Tambuwal said all the states were committed to improving vaccine availability as well as encourage stronger community engagement and securing financing.
“In addition, we will ensure strong monitoring and evaluation while at the same time, accountability mechanisms will be put in place,” he added.
Bill Gates said that all partners were committed to ensuring maximum number of children were reached, adding that the MoUs were intended to enable states achieve targeted coverage.
“Routine immunization is crucial to ensuring that every child is protected against vaccine-preventable diseases, helping them achieve their potential and live full, productive lives. We are ready t support the states in reaching the targets set out in the MoUs,” he added.
He said with the election season approaching, all hands must be on deck to ensure the targets were met. He projected that all partners were committed to reaching at least 80+ coverage in the coming year.
Gates commended all the states that were signatory to the MoU for their commitment, adding that Nigeria was on the right track not just in efforts to fight polio, but on achieving targets in routine immunization.
“My request is that all the Governors should review campaigns and ensure that in the next two years, we complete polio eradication. On routine immunization, the opportunity is fantastic, vaccinations are phenomenal on their impacts. We can prevent millions of deaths by doing work on RI,” he said.
Dangote emphasized the need for governments to be up-to-date on the payment of their counterpart funds as well as work hard on improving data especially at the grassroots level.
“We are delighted that the MoU have been extended, reaffirming Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Yobe states’ commitment to the health of their citizens. Our expectation now is that this commitment will be translated into concrete action,” he stated.
He commended both the federal and governments for working on data improvement and for reaffirming their commitments to tackling preventable diseases.
In their separate remarks, the Governors expressed delight at the signing of the MoUs, and vowed to ensure full implementation in their various states.