This Day (Lagos)

28 September 2011

Nigeria: Bill Gates Visits Nigeria, Signs MoU On Polio Eradication

Abuja — Chairman of Microsoft Computers Worldwide, Mr. Bill Gates, yesterday visited Kebbi State, where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state Governor, Alhaji Saidu Dakingari, to eradicate polio cases in the state.

The polio eradication signing agreement was attended by the Chairman of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Mansur Shehu; the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu; commissioners, traditional rulers; including the Emirs of Gwandu and Argungu; Alhaji Iliyasu Bashar; and Alhaji Samaila Mera, respectively.

Gates said his association was determined to eradicate polio world wide and other related diseases. According to him Indian with a population of over one billion had one polio case recently due to measures taken by his foundation. He said the situation in Nigeria needed urgent attention with about six cases by 2010.

According to him, the situation in Kebbi State demanded urgent attention because government had taken drastic measures to make the state totally free.

"However, you would all agree with me here that a number of conditions need to be met to ensure successful implementation of our programme for revamping the primary health care system in Kebbi State," Gates said.

He also stated that with such measures in place, Kebbi State would rank among the best in the country, adding that: "To meet these conditions, the collaboration and support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, our development partners are more than a welcome contribution in the right direction. The foreigner looked forward in the next two years the eradication of polio in Kebbi and other 35 states in the country."

Responding, Dakingari said his government had constructed over 200 primary healthcare facilities across the state in an effort to ensure that the necessary system or platform for routine immunisation was brought closer to homes where women and children live.

"Now that the election is over, as from 2012 the government will be serious to commit a lot of resources on polio like in the previous years," he said.

It would be recalled that a statement signed by Michal Fishman of the Bil and Melinda Gates Foundation, had said Gates was accompanied to Nigeria by the foundation's chief executive officer, Mr. Jeff Raikes.

The statement also said Gates visit was essentially based on how to end polio and strengthen immunisation against other vaccine-preventable diseases with a follow up on the Abuja Commitments to Polio Eradication.

"Nigeria has achieved important success with polio over recent years and we are confident it can finish the job," Gates said.

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