Four governors from the northern part of Nigeria today signed a memorandum of understanding, MoU with some partners to ensure the health of Nigerian children in the region by providing life-saving vaccines. In a ceremony at the Kaduna State Government House, the governors of Yobe, Sokoto, Borno and Kaduna States entered an agreement with Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Foundation; Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; as well as James Entwistle, United States Ambassador to Nigeria, to launch a new partnership to strengthen and sustain routine immunization programmes aimed at saving more lives of Nigerian children and keeping them free from polio. The partners also used the opportunity to review the successes and lessons learned from existing programmes in Kano and Bauchi States.
Responding to the MoU, Isaac Adewole minister of Health, who congratulated the states and the partners in the laudable project for contributing immensely to safe-guarding the lives of children in the country, noted that though the country is passing through some challenging economic phase currently, the lives of children could not be jeopardised with. “These are tough financial times in Nigeria, but the health of children cannot wait. The country has an ambitious plan to introduce new life-saving vaccines over the next several years, and today’s commitments will ensure we can get those vaccines to the children who need them most.”
As the MoU provides, the governors would ensure effective governance, leadership, and financial accountability to reduce child illness and death from diseases such as measles, pertussis, and hepatitis through increased routine immunization in their respective states. On their part, the other partners would provide the financial and technical support needed to ensure the success of the programme. All signatories pledged to improve routine immunization coverage in northern Nigeria systematically and sustainably, where vaccine coverage rates are low.
In his comment, Danagote remarked, “These agreements strengthen our partnerships with Nigerian states working to provide health services to all their citizens,” said Dangote. Building on their recent success in eliminating polio from the region, Nigerian governors have and will continue to play a vital role in establishing a legacy of sustained commitment to routine immunization.”
The objective of the MOUs is to reach 80 percent of the target population in the signing states with the necessary life-saving vaccines by December 2018 to prevent common childhood diseases and ensure a polio-free environment. To achieve this, key components of the program include the functionality of the ‘Primary Health Care Under One Roof’ policy that would see a single management body overseeing the programme. The implementation of regular audits and reports would ensure that transparent funding and financial discipline are the watchword during implementation.
As the signatories pointed out, contributions towards the costs of the programme by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, and state governments would be staggered across three years with the states taking progressive responsibility for financing immunization services.
“These commitments will improve immunization coverage and help provide reliable health services in Nigeria. The States will be able to reap the full return on their investment through the number of lives improved and saved, and communities will remain protected from vaccine-preventable diseases for years to come,” said Gates, adding, “Nigeria’s governors have the opportunity to build health systems strong enough to stop future outbreaks.”
US ambassador, Entwistle, who said the MOUs offered the model platform to capitalise on the prospects of evidence-based approaches, further stated that the results would include stronger systems for immunizations, equal access to routine immunization services, and building capacity for Nigerian states to lead in developing solutions for its people.”