President Buhari’s Statement to Mark Nigeria’s De-listing as a Polio Endemic Country

President Muhammadu Buhari, Commander In chief of The Federal Republic of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari, Commander In chief of The Federal Republic of Nigeria

It is with great pleasure that I receive you and your team today on this very happy event,marking more than a year in which no polio case was reported in our country.

For 14 consecutive months,Nigeria has not recorded any new case of polio virus. This, as I had been briefed, is the first step towards certification of Nigeria as
polio virus free country by WHO in the next two years.

This achievement, I recall, also resonated at the 70th UN General Assembly when the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, mentioned it. I therefore commend WHO for their consistent stewardship in Global Health Security

As you are aware our, efforts to to eradicate this crippling disease started in 1998.It has taken a lot of toll on our country in terms of human and material resources. We are however not relenting as we are determined to achieve our collective goal of saving our children from further paralysis from polio.

I want to assure you that there will be no complacency, as we will maintain and improve on our surveillance system as well asraise the childhood population immunity against the poliovirus to avoidany spread of the disease. The federal government will sustain the current momentum and we shall continue to regard this campaign as an emergency until we are declared polio free in the next two years.

On 31st August, 2015, I held a meeting with the High Advocacy group whereby the Federal Ministry of Health was given a clear directive to come up with measures for enhanced effort towards ensuring the sustenance of this campaign.

In pursuance of this anti-polio drive I held an expanded meeting of state Governors and other Stakeholders involving mainly representatives from the eleven polio high risk States where the main issues requiring Government attention were raised and discussed.

I would like to re-iterate the federal government’s commitment towards the achievement of a polio free Nigeria in 2017. The Government will sustain the needed funding for operations and vaccine procurement for the programme. Also, the Presidential Task force on Polio Eradication will be reconstituted under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health to provide political direction and over sighting order to avoid complacency and replase.

I would like to place on record my recommendation for the vaccinators, community mobilizers, partners, parents and caregivers who have supported the polio eradication initiative of Government through the years.

I would like to commend the support of our traditional and religious leaders who have contributed immensely to the polio eradication efforts. By the same token we thank development partners, particularly WHO, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, US-CDC, Rotary International, and a host of others who contributed financially and materially to the over-all efforts.

For sustainability, it is important that the fight against polio and other communicable and non-communicable diseases, is anchored on a strong health system. The National Health Act has made provision for universal access to basic healthcare with a focus on the poor and the vulnerable as well as the basic healthcare privision funds to support its implementation. I have already instructed the Federal Ministry of Finance to provide for the basic healthcare provision fund under the 2016 Budget Appropiration. We are also working on a revised National Health Policy which would have the achievement of Universal Health Coverage as its main ultimate goal.

Another concern of the Health Sector under this Administration is addressing the significant morbidity and mortality rates caused by neglected tropical diseases. These diseases disproportionately affect the poor and the vulnerable and as such are major concerns of this Administration. We shall ensure that these diseases are no longer “neglected”.

I wish to assure you that we shall continue to work together to achieve our mutual objectives in the whole field of medicare.

I thank you once again for this visit and wish you well in your assignment under the World Health Organization.

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