By Rabiu Sani
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has commended the Borno State Government over its commitments to eradicating polio disease in spite of challenges by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Malam Isa Gusau, the Special Assistant on Media to Gov. Babagana Zulum, made the disclosure in a statement, on Friday in Maiduguri.
Gusau disclosed that Mr Bill Gates, the Chairman of the foundation, made the commendation during a video conference for the mid-year review of polio immunisation campaign, held at its headquarters in Abuja.
He disclosed that the meeting was attended by Zulum, Aliko Dangote, Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai El-Kanemi, Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Gusau said that Gates had described the efforts of the state government in the fight against polio disease as “impressive”, adding that the philanthropist also expressed joy over the synergy demonstrated between the government and military.
He reportedly said that the synergy facilitated smooth conduct of immunization exercises enhancing coverage in crisis prone areas.
“Gates is happy with the inclusion of primary healthcare in the Zulum’s 10-point development agenda.
“Gates also called on the state government to work towards increasing the quality of immunization campaign coming up in July and September; through the release of counterpart fund, and bridging the gap to reach 50, 000 children in administering polio vaccines in safe areas affected by insurgency as identified during the review meeting”, he added.
Gusau also quoted Dangote as advocating for proactive steps to addressing challenges, expanding immunization coverage and improving management to increase access to more fund.
He further quoted Zulum as expressing gratitude to Gates and Dangote over their support towards improving primary healthcare service delivery in the state.
“Zulum identified interventions by Gates Foundation on provision of livelihoods for displaced persons in Kaga Local Government Area of the state in the past three years, and Dangote’s major donation of building materials worth over N2 billion in 2016; which went a long way in reconstruction and resettlement efforts”.
Gusau added that the governor announced that his administration had began construction of seven health facilities at Hawul, Gwoza, Kala-Balge, Askira-Uba and Jere local government areas of the state.
Zulum promised to ensure immediate release of counterpart fund to facilitate smooth conduct of July and September round of immunisation campaigns, as well as mobilize participation of community leaders in the exercise.
According to him, El-Kanemi also pledged support to ensure effective coverage in the exercise.
Gusau added that highlights of the meeting included presentation by Dr Sule Mele, the Director, Borno State Primary Healthcare Agency (PHC).