The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has said that lives will be saved in Nigeria and other countries with polio cases if efforts were increased towards ending polio.
The Foundation gave the advice in its 2017 annual letter released recently.
Every year since 2009, Bill and Melinda Gates write a letter to the world. The letter this year is a response on the charity’s progress worldwide to American billionaire, Warren Buffet who donated $30 billion dollars to the foundation,
The letter which was obtained by Daily Trust said that in 1988 when the global campaign was launched to end polio , there were 350,000 new cases each year, but that last year, there were 37 , and that those 37 cases were confined to Northern Nigeria and parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Bill Gates said ending polio would save lives through the magic zero, and that when polio is eradicated, the world can use polio funds to improving child health, and the lessons from polio would lead to better immunization systems for other diseases.
Melinda Gates said the world will benefit from the electrifying effect of ending the disease, saying that the surge of optimism will draw energy and brains and dollars into global health which will in turn intensify the fight against measles, malaria , TB and AIDS .
She said there’s still more to do on vaccination coverage, “19 million children, many of them living in conflict zones or remote areas, are still not fully immunized. Their governments have to work harder to reach these kids. It’s crucial to the goal of cutting childhood deaths in half again—down below 3 million by 2030,” she said.
The foundation said the lives of 122 million children have been saved since 1990 through the work of the charity.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust following the release of the annual letter, Country representative of the Foundation in Nigeria, Dr Mairo Mandara called on the federal government to have a dedicated fund for vaccinating children, and to also ensure adequate provision of vaccines.
While urging government to increase efforts on ending polio , she said donors support will not continue forever.
“Government needs to be very serious about polio .We need to end polio. Polio is taking a lot of attention, we are almost there and now with the release of the north-east, we can have access to children and we can actually stop polio in this country, we can take it off and then resources will be used for other things,” she said.
Mandara called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call for the presidential taskforce meeting, saying it had not met for nearly two years, a move that is needed to ensure more commitment and that vaccines are adequately supplied to children.
She said that there was need to ensure adequate provision of essential medicines, maternal leave is reviewed to at least four months, and that women are enlightened about the benefits of breast feeding.