Japan has given a grant of $27 million for emergency polio vaccination efforts in Nigeria and additional $6million to cater to vaccination efforts in the Lake Chad region.
According to a statement by UNICEF, the donation was “in response to the urgent need to increase immunity to polio in the region”.
The funds will be used to “purchase polio vaccines, conduct house-to-house polio vaccination campaigns and support efforts to mobilize communities for vaccination in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and the Central African Republic,” UNICEF said.
In 2016, Nigeria returned to the list of only three polio endemic countries after four cases of the polio virus were detected among members of displaced families fleeing hard to reach areas in Borno, the hotbed of Boko Haram crisis.
UNICEF says current efforts to eliminate the wild poliovirus include the collaboration of national governments “with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), comprising the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), have implemented emergency vaccination campaigns throughout the region to rapidly raise childhood immunity to the polio virus and guard against further spread”.
UNICEF Representative Mohamed Fall thanked the Japanese people for the generous grant.
“This funding fills an urgent need in supporting the ongoing polio vaccination campaigns,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF representative.
“It will bring Nigeria back to being within reach of eradicating polio and will protect its neighbours against the spread of the virus.”
Japan is one of the champion donors to the GPEI and the Global Health agenda in general, with contributions to polio eradication through UNICEF since 2002 totalling more than US$333 million.
“This funding – and the leadership provided by both the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s innovative soft loan in partnership with BMGF in Nigeria and Pakistan for polio eradication – has proven instrumental in the historic reduction of wild poliovirus transmission globally,” UNICEF added.
Speaking about the grant, Sadanobu Kusaoke, ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, says “the government of Japan recognizes the risk that as long as even one child is infected with the poliovirus anywhere in the world, all children everywhere remain at risk”.
“It is critical to ensure children are vaccinated against this virus until it is eradicated.” he added.