Nigerian president declares commitment to polio eradication
The proportion of children missed during immunization campaigns in Nigeria has been significantly reduced from more than 50 percent to 20 percent in key areas of the country. Rotary Images.
Nigeria's President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua pledged his continued commitment to eradicate polio in Nigeria as he received Rotary's Polio Eradication Champion Award for his leadership in support of ending polio.
The award honors heads of state, health agency leaders, and others who have made significant contributions toward polio eradication.
"The award has given me a great responsibility to do everything humanly possible to ensure that polio is finally and totally eradicated from Nigeria," Yar'Adua said during a presentation on 24 July at the State House in Abuja. The award was presented by Jonathan Majiyagbe, the first African chair of The Rotary Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
"As an African and resident of Kano, I am honored to present this award to President Yar'Adua," said Majiyagbe. "I thank him for the progress being made in reaching more Nigerian children with the necessary vaccine."
Yar'Adua has been a strong supporter of polio eradication efforts in Nigeria, one of four polio-endemic countries. Under his leadership, Nigeria announced it would fulfill its US$34 million pledge to support polio immunization rounds. Yar'Adua also recently created an initiative to intensify efforts and speed progress toward polio eradication.
Earlier this year, Yar'Adua’s wife, Turai, personally launched immunization campaigns.
Majiyagbe noted that Yar'Adua, while governor of Katsina State in 2002, launched a safety study of the oral polio vaccine that helped restore public confidence in national immunization efforts.
Since then, renewed engagement of political, religious, traditional, and community leaders and new initiatives, including Quranic school engagement and community dialogues, have led to progress in Nigeria. The proportion of children missed during immunization campaigns has been significantly reduced from more than 50 percent to 20 percent in key areas of the country.
To date, more than two billion children worldwide have been immunized against the paralyzing and sometimes deadly poliovirus. Tremendous progress has been made in the last two decades, as polio cases have declined by 99 percent. Yet, challenges remain in the four polio-endemic countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
Finishing polio worldwide remains Rotary's top goal. Vital to helping achieve that goal is Rotary's US$100 Million Challenge, the three-year funding effort to match the Gates Foundation’s $100 million grant to The Rotary Foundation for polio eradication.
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