Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima, co-chaiman, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill Gates, President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote yesterday held a video conference for live contributions on the 2017 end of year review of routine immunisation on polio eradication across the 27 Local Government Areas of Borno State.
The video-conference meeting is one of the meetings made by the principal partners since 2015 when the MoU was signed between the State, represented by HE Hon. Kashim Shettima, Mr Bill Gates for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Alh. Aliko Dangote for Dangote Foundation to strengthen Routine Immunization in Borno (and five other states- Yobe, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi and Sokoto)
The three partners drop their funds in to a common basket, and a work plan is developed.
They meet mid-year and end of the year through such video-conferences (same is happening also in the other 5 MoU states) to take stock of the programme progress, challenges and chart a way forward to improve on this.
Bill Gates joined discussions from the United States, Africa’s richest man, Dangote, joined from Lagos whileGovernor Shettima spoke from Maiduguri in the midst of stakeholders that include officials of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and partners from agencies of the United Nations and others involved in supporting Immunisation in Nigeria.
The Deputy Governor, Shehu of Bama, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Alemu Wondimagnehu on behalf of all UN and other Immunization partners, Dr. U S Adamu, the Incidence Manager (IM) National (Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) represents the Executive Director NPHCDA, and the technical team from the state and partners, and invited stakeholders within the State, the political and traditional institutions reps, etc were present at the Borno State Public Healthcare Emergency Operation Centre at the Eye Hospital in Maiduguri which served as the meeting point.
Presentations were made basically looking at the trend of progress, successes and challenges so far from inception of the MoU to date.
The meeting agreed on ways to improve immunisation coverage with commitments reaffirmed by all stakeholders.
Gates thanked the Governor and the entire team for the progresses so far.
Mr. Gates explained that the goal is to vaccinate all the kids, and if the vaccines can reach them, more than half the death of those kids is cut and their health improved.
He also urged the team to explore more about the quality of RI, and the possible reasons- Why aren’t the kids not vaccinated? Are the parents actually coming for the vaccinations? Do they want to come? Was it too far to come? Or did they come and there was some problems? Like the line was too long? Were there no vaccines? And what need to be done on the demand side to improve uptake
He was impressed with the government dealing with the unrest, trying to restore the health system and the quality indicators.
Shettima thanked Dangote, Gates for their holistic approach towards the challenges we are facing in the North East and Borno in particular.
The Governor expressed that so far, 18 months without polio but there are challenges in Abadam, Marte and the islands along the Lake Chad. Despite these challenges, there is a silver lining at the end of the horizon.
He reiterated the fact that community engagement is absolutely essential in driving the process of routine immunization as well as polio immunization, and incidentally, Royal Highnesses, the Shehu of Bama isgoing back to Bama by next month, so also the Shehuof Dikwa and Emir of Gwoza, which are some of the flashpoint areas, and relocation back to their back to their bases will make them perfectly, passionately, and aggressively engage with the communities and see that the aim is achieved.
The Governor commended Mr. Michael Galway for going to the nooks and crannies of Borno to pursue the cause along with Alhaji Ahmed Iya.
Shettima pledged to keep the tempo flying and continue fighting to see that polio is eradicated once and for all.