In an effort to protect millions of children from polio in Nigeria, the Japanese government yesterday announced a grant of $33.3 million in humanitarian emergency funding to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
The grant came as a result of new cases popped up in areas affected by conflicts in the Borno State in Nigeria after the country has been declared “polio-free. The outbreak followed the large-scale movement of families coming from north-eastern Nigeria, an area inaccessible to health services.
In response to the urgent need to rapidly raise immunity to polio virus in the region, Japan has provided exceptional funding from their supplementary budget envelope to purchase polio vaccines, conduct house-to-house polio campaigns and support communication efforts to mobilize communities for vaccination in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
National Governments in the region, in collaboration 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.
A statement from UNICEF stated that, most of the funding, approximately $27 million, will be used in Nigeria.
UNICEF representative Mohamed Fall who stated that the funding fills an urgent need in supporting the on-going polio vaccination campaigns added that 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.”
Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Mr. Sadanobu Kusaoke also stated that, “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.”