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I released N9.8b to contain outbreak of wild polio in 2016 – Buhari

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari Sunday evening, revealed how he ordered the release of N9.8 billion four years ago to contain the spread of polio virus following a sudden  outbreak of the disease in Borno State after two years of break.

“When, in 2016, Nigeria suffered a major setback with the outbreak of the Wild Polio Virus in Borno State, after about 2 years without any case, I directed the immediate release of N9.8billion to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to contain the outbreak,” President Buhari said in a statement released on his Twitter handle.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on Thursday certified Nigeria as being polio free after the submission of  the country’s polio-eradication documentation by the NPHCDA team  to the African Regional Certification Committee (ARCC).

In celebrating this feat, the president congratulated all Nigerians and many partners, local and international, who have contributed tirelessly to this feat  saying,”we are deeply grateful to each and every one of you.”

He noted that “This achievement reflects the resilient spirit of Nigerians, in particular the strength and capacity of our health workers, who drew resources and support from multiple sectors to deal a final blow to the Wild Polio Virus.”

According to him, the landmark achievement is also a promise kept to all Nigerians.

As you will recall, in August 2015, barely three months after we assumed office, I promised Nigerians that: “My government shall provide the necessary resources and commitment required to strengthen the health system, routine immunization and ensure the country is certified Polio-free,” the president said.

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He also recalled that the achievement of polio free status is a hard-won battle spanning over three decades of hard work and dedication by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Federal, States and Local Governments, polio eradication teams at all levels, donors and development partners, both local and international.

In August 2016, Isaac Adewole, a former Minister of Health, disclosed that the Federal Government obtained a $125 million loan from the World Bank to tackle the resurgence of the wild polio virus and other health challenges in the country.

According to Adewole, 60 million dollars would be earmarked for polio, while the other 65 million dollars would be used for the provision of vaccines, adding that the government had released N10 billion from the 2016 budget to tackle the epidemic.

Nigeria’s new status will be officially announced in July.

In 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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