WHO begins vaccination of 4.7m children in North-East
By AbdulSalam Muhammad & Gabriel Olawale
The World Health Organisation, WHO, today began a mass vaccination as part of the campaign to protect 4,766,214 children against measles in conflict-affected North-East states.
The global health body said the two-week exercise at the internally displaced people, IDP’s camps is targeting all children aged between six months and 10 years in accessible areas in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
In a related development, Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has called for the need for accountability in managing donor funds released for Polio immunisation in Kano State government last year.
Alhaji Dangote made the call during a video conference involving Co-Chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates; Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; his Kaduna State counterpart, Malam Nasir el-Rufai; officials of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and development partners, at the Government House, Kano.
He said the request lies in the interest of “accountability and transparency” and that “all expenditure in the exercise must be verified by external auditors and the report tendered by the end of March 31.”
Dangote and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations had, in 2012, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Kano State government on routine immunisation in a tripartite accord meant to lapse in 2015, but extended for one year, while Kaduna State government signed a similar agreement a year ago.
He, however, commended the Ganduje administration for providing world-class cold chains, stressing the need for the government to continue to work closely with traditional authorities and local government officials to achieve a Polio-free society.
Mr. Gates also lauded Kano and Kaduna state governments for their war against polio, stressing that total eradication of the disease is possible if the states maintained the zeal.
He also stressed the need for accountability in managing donor funds.
The governor’s reaction
In his contribution to the video conference, Governor Ganduje said: “Although milestone have been recorded in immunisation in the state, which hitherto was the chief host of Polio, we would emphasise public enlightenment and cooperation with religious and traditional leaders to make the set goal achievable.”
He also promised that more attention would be attached to data collection and thanked Dangote Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donor agencies for supporting Kano to attain landmarks on immunisation and maternal/child health.
On the measles vaccination, WHO representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, said the campaign is an emergency intervention to protect more than four million children against a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease.
According to him, “massive disruption to health services in conflict-affected areas for many years has deprived these children of essential childhood vaccinations.
“In addition, many of them have severe malnutrition, making them extremely vulnerable to serious complications and death from measles.”
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