The efforts of Borno State in eradicating polio despite insurgency challenges “is impressive”, Co-chairs of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Mr. Bill Gates said at the weekend.
He spoke while seating next to Dangote President Alhaji Aliko Dangote at the Gates Foundation’s headquarters in Seattle, United States (U.S.).
The billionaire businessmen and philanthropists took part in a live video conference with Governor Babagana Umara Zulum and Executive Director of the National Primary Health-care Development Agency Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
Others include officials of the World Health Organisation and stakeholders involved in primary healthcare in Borno for the mid-year immunisation and primary healthcare review meeting.
Gates said he was happy with the collaboration between the Borno State Government and the military in the effort to accelerate the coverage of immunisation and primary healthcare.
He added that he was also happy with the inclusion of primary healthcare in Zulum’s 10-point development agenda as governor since May 29.
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The philanthropist urged the state government to work towards increasing the quality of immunisation campaigns this month and in September, through release of counterpart funding and bridging a gap of reaching 50,000 children to administer polio vaccines in safe areas affected by insurgent, as identified during the review meeting.
Dangote, who described Zulum as Borno State’s right man in office, called for continued effort in addressing challenges facing expansion of coverage and fund management to increase access to more funding.
The governor began with expression of gratitude to Gates and Dangote for their support towards improving the provision of primary healthcare services.
He identified an intervention by Gates on provision of livelihoods for displaced persons in Kaga Local Government Area three years ago and Dangote’s major donation of building materials worth N2 billion in 2016, which he said, went a long way in enhancing reconstruction and resettlement efforts.
The governor announced that as part of commitment to health care delivery, he has in less than two months of coming into office began the construction of seven additional primary healthcare centres in Hawul, Gwoza, Kala-Balge, Askira-Uba and Jere local government areas of Borno State.
He promised an immediate release of counterpart funding towards the immunisation programme holding this month and September.
The governor also promised to ensure compulsory participation of council chairmen in immunisation and other primary healthcare meetings and events.
Zulum also promised to take up some matters raise by the Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, with whom he had a closed door meeting after the video conference.
The Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai Al-Amin El Kanemi, who coordinated the participation of traditional rulers and thousands of district and ward heads in expanding immunisation coverage, promised to strengthen areas of successes and overcome challenges identified during the review meeting.