Hopes of Nigeria having close to zero cases of polio might soon be a reality.
Thirty-six executive governors and the Federal Capital Territory have signed up to the Nigeria Immunization Challenge, an initiative launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in October 2011. It aims to eliminate polio in the country and stop its spread to neigboring countries, such as Chad, Niger and Mali.
The challenge calls on the governors and local government area chairmen to be proactive in promoting polio eradication by releasing funds for the immunization on time and working closely with traditional leaders to ensure all children are vaccinated. Their performance, to be reviewed on a monthly and quarterly basis, will be transmitted to the executive governor of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, which acts as the foundation’s partner and secretariat for the challenge.
The winning state that meets the challenge’s criteria by year’s end will receive a $500,000 grant from the Gates Foundation, which the state can use for other health initiatives.
In 2011, 51 cases of wild polio virus were reported in eight Nigerian states. A.B. Okauru, the forum’s director general, said progress made in 2010 was not sustained in 2011.
“In 2012, Nigeria will need to redouble its efforts to finally get rid of this devastating disease,” he said.
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