By Haruna Gimba
The lives of over 7.2 million Nigerian children is at risk, as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, withholds N12.8 billion allocated in 2016 budget for Routine Immunization.
According to a Press Statement issued to newsmen by the Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR), months after President Muhammadu Buhari accented the 2016 budget, there was no releases for Routine
Immunization to protect the lives of Nigerian children from vaccine preventable diseases.
Rising from four-day training on Routine Immunization budget tracking and advocacy for national Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Media, the participants questioned Nigerian government commitment’s to save the lives of millions of vulnerable children.
Our correspondent report that the training was supported by CHR and Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health Project (PACFaH).
The statement said the non-release of the immunization funds to the relevant agencies in charge of implementation, exposes Nigeria to a possible reversal of the achievements of two years since the interruption Wild Polio Virus in the country.
The CSOs expressed fears that the image of Nigeria in the global community since the interruption of polio has improved, but further delay of funds by the Ministry of Finance would have severe consequences in the country and global support that it receives.
The groups also stated that the financial burden of polio eradication was largely borne by international donors.
According to Stears Report, Nigeria’s total contributions to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative amounted to roughly $111 million between 2006 and 2013; while the estimated funding required for eradication efforts in Nigeria is $170 million for 2016.
Coordinator of Vaccine Network in Nigeria, Mrs Chika Okafor, said
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, should understand that by virtue of
Nigeria joining the Lower Middle Income Countries (LMIC) with a GDP of
about $510billion in 2014, the country will no longer enjoy the Global
Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) funding support for
immunization which has made significant contribution to the country’s
strides in immunization.
It would be recalled that in 2015, Nigeria could not pay its part of the funding requirement and was able to secure a bailout fund from the World Bank, it is with this bailout fund that the country is able to sustain its contribution till the third quarter of 2016.
Project Director of CHR/PACFaH, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba, said less than five months to the end of 2016, nothing has been released for procurement of vaccines and other logistics.
“As a nation we cannot continue to depend on development partners to buy the vaccines we need in the country, yet we have funds for such purposes in our budget,” he said.
He said the delay in releasing Routine Immunization funds puts the country at risk of experiencing stock out of vaccines in few months, adding if Ministry of Finance is unable to priorities needs to protect the lives of under five children in the country.
Health Reporters gathered that the CSOs and Media has formed a strong coalition and launched a social media campaign using a hashtag #RITrackit, to raise awareness of the public on immunization funding activities in the country, to ensure increase accountability and transparency in funds expenditure.