Japan grants $33m for polio eradication in Lake Chad Region

Abuja, March 20, 2017 (TNE): Japan has provided a 33-million-dollar grant for emergency polio vaccination in the Lake Chad region to prevent further spread of the virus.

Mr Mohamed Fall, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative in Nigeria, made this known in a statement on Monday.

Fall, who described the fund as a supplementary budget, said it was aimed at responding to urgent needs to increase immunity to polio in the region.

According to him, the grant will be used to buy polio vaccines, conduct house-to-house polio vaccination campaigns and support efforts to mobilise communities for vaccination in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

The UNICEF official said the insurgency problem in the northeast of Nigeria led to large areas of Borno being cut off from health services.

He noted that four cases of the wild polio virus were detected in Borno last year among displaced families who fled.

He emphasised that governments in the region, in collaboration with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) comprising the WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, CDC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), had implemented emergency vaccination campaigns throughout the region.

He said that such efforts were to rapidly raise children’s immunity to the polio virus and guard against further spread.

He explained that “the 33 million-dollar grant is to attend to urgent need to support ongoing polio vaccination campaigns.

“It will bring Nigeria back to being within reach of eradicating polio and will protect its neighbours against the spread of the virus.

“Japan is one of the donors to the GPEI and the Global Health agenda in general, with contributions to polio eradication through UNICEF since 2002 totalling more than 333 million U.S. dollars.

“This funding for polio eradication in Nigeria has proven to be instrumental in the historic reduction of wild polio virus transmission globally.

“The leadership provided by the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) innovative soft loan, among others, were also instrumental in the reduction of the virus transmission.” (TNE)

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