Kaduna — The United Nations Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) has raised alarm over what it described as the increase in polio cases in the North.
This was contained in a communique issued after the 13th High Level Advocacy meeting between UNICEF and secretaries to state governors and commissioners in Kaduna.
The communiqué was signed by Secretary to the Zamfara State Government, Alhaji Atto Bungudu and eight others on behalf of the participating states, which include Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Sokoto, Niger and the FCT, while the Assistant Representative, UNICEF 'C' office, Mr. James Mugaju, signed on behalf of UNICEF.
"The forum noted with serious concern the rising cases of wide polio virus in the northern zone. All states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are called upon to sustain efforts at quality polio eradication campaigns and put in place effective intervention programmes to reach every eligible child", the communique added.
It added that in view of the rising number of un-immunized children in the region, states were urged to refocus and reinvigorate routine immunizations by providing necessary resources for fixed and outreach sessions as enshrined in the immunization policy.
The meeting said efforts should be made to ensure the reduction of un-immunized children by at least 50 per cent.
"The forum also noted that while states and the FCT budget are MDG driven, there has been insufficient progress in funds release and cash backing for programmes implementation. It therefore urges all states to ensure prompt release of funds", the communique stated.
Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Muktar Ramalan Yero, while declaring open the meeting stressed the need for more funding for children oriented programmes.