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WHO cautions State Governments on funding commitment for Polio Eradication

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By Ndidi Chukwu 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed dissatisfaction over complacency of some State Governments in Nigeria towards the Polio Eradication. Many state governments have reportedly abandoned their financial commitments towards eradicating polio, the WHO fears that this could reverse the gains already recorded in the fight.

WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan expressed worries during her assessment visit to Nigeria on the country’s polio eradication efforts while commending the federal government for its financial contributions to the fight and making sure that such is reflected on her domestic budget.

“Lately there has been growing concern among the partners that the financial commitment at the state level appears to be declining and I hope it is not because we have achieved this landmark. Some states did not release funds for the recent vaccination rounds and we know that this will negatively affect the quality of the programme,” the WHO said.

“I would to request and encourage the federal and state governments to continue meeting the financial commitments to sustain the momentum at polio eradication efforts. We have come a long way and we must until next two years when the country will have been certified free and we can turn attention to other things.” said Chan who was represented by WHO Regional for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moet.

Her visit is part of the WHO tradition of celebrating success in any country which records a great feat of eradication of communicable diseases. She said “this visit to Nigeria is to congratulate the country for achieving the interruption of wild polio virus without any reported case for more than 15 months now”

Meanwhile, the federal government wants the WHO to incorporate more Nigerian into its human workforce within the African region and the Nigerian country office. The Director Health Research, Planning and Statistics at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Ngozi Azodoh told the UN health agency that as WHO’s largest constituency in Africa, Nigeria deserves more place and relevance in its affairs.

She said “we plead for the WHO to expand the participation of Nigerians in its country office and around the region. We know that we are the biggest constituency of WHO in Africa and we think that being the biggest constituency in Africa must also translate to being able to support the work of the Regional Director in terms of the availability human resources to carter for health of the region.”

But the WHO assured Nigeria of its readiness to support the country’s health agenda through its partners while mobilizing resources for Nigeria’s health security. “We would be ready to help you advocate for investments and work with partners that support various disease programmes.”

“I’d also like to say that Nigeria’s achievement is inspiring and envied by the two countries that are left on the list of polio endemic countries-Pakistan and Afghanistan,” she said.

According the WHO, at the last meeting of the polio partners board, these two countries were really spurred by landmark of Nigeria and trying to learn from her experience adding that already, the countries hopes that Nigerian experts will be able share polio success lessons with them.

She said “We count on Nigeria’s continued leadership to ensure that the stakeholders who are involved in polio eradication remains vigilant because this is an enormously landmark but we need to continue to work for the next two years for this to be confirmed through certification.”

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