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Polio-Free Status: Buhari thanks Merkel, Osinbajo, Sultan of Sokoto, others for job well done

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has written to world leaders and partners to appreciate their support towards helping Nigeria attain a Wild Polio Virus (WPV) free status.

In a press statement signed by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Friday, Buhari  also assured that his administration would sustain the momentum and strengthen the primary health care system in the country.

The President also commended Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chairman Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication, and his team, for making Nigeria proud and saving children from the scourge of poliomyelitis.

‘‘This is to express our profound appreciation for your leadership of the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization,” the President said.

‘‘The declaration of Nigeria as a Wild Polio free country is the result of your effective coordination of the Nigerian Polio eradication program through the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization, Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

‘‘Please extend my personal appreciation to all members of the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication for making Nigeria proud and saving her children from the scourge of Poliomyelitis.

‘‘I urge the Taskforce under your leadership to sustain this coordination especially in mobilizing State Governors to provide the needed oversight and resources to sustain the momentum and strengthen the primary health care system by improving routine immunization, maternal, newborn and child health services.

‘‘I urge you to sustain the momentum as I look forward to us leveraging on the polio infrastructure and experience to drive other health interventions.”

He also wrote to Angela Merkel, German Chancellor thanking the European country for decades of financial support to Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) programme in Nigeria through KfW.

‘‘Please be assured that my government will remain committed and focused to ensuring the needed resources will be provided to sustain the momentum and strengthen the primary health care system of our great country,’’ the President said in his letter to Chancellor Merkel.

Buhari further extended his appreciation to  traditional and religious leaders, who through their leadership built community trust for the polio programme thereby increasing acceptance and ensuring all eligible children are reached with the polio vaccine.

Specifically, he wrote Alhaji Muhammad Saad III, Sultan of Sokoto, the leadership of Jama’atul-Nasirl Islam (JNI) and the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

The President also wrote separate letters of appreciation to Bill Gates, the European Union, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization, Robert R. Redfield, Director, U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund, David Malpass, President, World Bank Group and John Barsa, Acting Administrator, United States Agency for International Development.

Others are, Global Affairs Canada, Professor Shinichi Kitaoka, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the International President, Rotary International.

President Buhari also appreciated the support of Aliko Dangote, Chairman Aliko Dangote Foundation,  Emeka Offor and Governor Kayode Fayemi, in his capacity as the Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum.

The World Health Organization in June declared Nigeria polio free after the country completed it’s documentation for the wild polio free status and was accepted by the African Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world still battling with the devastating  disease endemic.

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