President Muhammadu Buhari has said the breakdown of law and order in the North East, occasioned by terrorism, was posing serious challenges to regular immunisation of children in affected states. He has significantly set a target of 2017 for the entire country to be rid of polio.
Although Nigeria has not recorded any case of polio in the last two years, Buhari said government cannot afford to be complacent in its bid to totally eradicate the polio virus from the country.
He has, therefore, directed the federal ministries of health, and information and culture, to re-invigorate strategies in concert with state governments to ensure that Nigeria is certified polio-free by 2017.
Buhari gave the directive on Tuesday, when he received Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, at the State House, Abuja.
According to Buhari, international partnerships to sustain Nigeria’s polio-free status should also be explored in areas where necessary.
The President stated this through a statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity.
“We have not recorded any case of polio in the last two years but we should not be complacent.
“The breakdown of law and order in the North East has posed challenges to regular immunization.
“The situation and the condition of children in Internally Displaced Persons camps around the country is very pathetic.
“But I know that the federal and state governments, in partnership with international organizations and NGOs, are doing so much to provide healthcare, rebuild infrastructure and facilitate voluntary return of displaced persons to their communities,” he said.
Buhari also assured the visiting WHO envoy, who was accompanied by Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, and the Minister of State, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, that his administration would continue to accord priority to healthcare through regular funding of public health programmes.
Under the Federal Government’s health intervention programme, the Federal Ministry of Health would provide free surgery to 10,000 poor and needy Nigerians who are registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The programme, which will commence on July 18, 2016, in 46 health facilities across the country will also extend free breast and cervical cancer tests to 18,000 Nigerians and free diabetes and hypertension tests for 500,000 Nigerians.
In her remarks, Moeti commended the Federal Government’s health programme and pledged continued support from WHO on health development in Nigeria.