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Buhari Charts A New Agenda On Anti-Polio Measures; As Nigeria Is Delisted On The Index

By Abdul Gaffar Bello

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday hinted that the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication will be reconstituted under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health, so as to provide political direction and oversight in order to avoid complacency and replase of the disease in the country.

Mr. President who commended the support of the traditional and religious, as well as the development partners, particularly WHO, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, US-CDC, Rotary International, and a host on their moral, financial and material contributions in eradicating polio in Nigeria, noted that it was important that the fight against the diseases and other communicable and non-communicable diseases was anchored on a strong health system.

Speaking at the event to mark the delisting of Nigeria as a Polio Endemic Country, at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari recalled that the National Health Act has made provision for universal access to basic healthcare with a focus on the poor and the vulnerable as well as the basic healthcare provision funds to support its implementation.

Following this, the President indicated that he has already instructed the Federal Ministry of Finance to provide for the basic healthcare provision fund, under the 2016 Budget Appropriation, adding that efforts were ongoing on a revised National Health Policy which would have the achievement of Universal Health Coverage as its main ultimate goal.

The President, who confirmed that Nigeria has not recorded any new case of polio virus for 14 consecutive months, lamented that another concern of the Health Sector under the present administration was about addressing the “significant morbidity and mortality rates caused by neglected tropical diseases”.

“These diseases disproportionately affect the poor and the vulnerable and as such are major concerns of this Administration. We shall ensure that these diseases are no longer “neglected”, the President affirmed, assuring the Government would continue to work together to achieve mutual objectives in the whole field of Medicare.

The President also assured that there would be no complacency, as surveillance system as well as raise the childhood population immunity against the polio virus to avoid any spread of the disease would be improved and maintained, stating the campaign would be considered as an emergency “until we are declared polio free in the next two years”.

Already, Buhari informed that he had held a meeting with the High Advocacy group whereby the Federal Ministry of Health was given a clear directive to come up with measures for enhanced effort towards ensuring the sustenance of this campaign.

“In pursuance of this anti-polio drive I held an expanded meeting of state Governors and other Stakeholders involving mainly representatives from the eleven polio high risk States where the main issues requiring Government attention were raised and discussed.

“I would like to reiterate the Federal government’s commitment towards the achievement of a polio free Nigeria in 2017. The Government will sustain the needed funding for operations and vaccine procurement for the programme” the President restated.

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