A group, Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health, PACFaH, has decried the recent slash of polio fund from the initial N4 billion to N2 billion by the government in the 2016 budget awaiting the president’s approval.
The project director of PACFaH, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba made this disclosure in a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, calling on government to sustain the gains of Nigeria’s interrupted transmission of the Wild Polio Virus, WPV, by not only returning the slashed fund but to increase the allocation to N7.9 billion.
Magashi said, “Mr. Gates pledged to contribute $80 million while Nigeria allocates N3.9 Billion in the budget as a counterpart fund.
“Also in the 2016 budget, N4 billion was allocated for routine immunisation; sadly 50 percent of the allocated funds for polio have been slashed respectively by the National Assembly.”
The group, in collaboration with Community Health and Research Initiative, CHR, urged the president to ensure that the allocation of N7.9 billion for polio eradication and the routine immunisation was in the reverse budget before he signs.
The project director said “according to Stears Report, Nigeria’s total contribution to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative amounted to roughly $111 million between 2006 and 2013 and the estimate funding required for eradication efforts in Nigeria is $170 million just for 2016.
He therefore urged President Buhari to use his good office to task the Office of the Accountant General to release routine immunisation funds without further delay, as it is a gesture to save the lives of millions of Nigerian children.
He said that Nigeria had recorded significant progress in reducing childhood mortality through vaccines, which had been a significant contributor and prioritising the sustainability of these gains.
Dr. Magashi said for the coming year, the country plans to introduce five new life-saving vaccines between 2014 and 2018, and the updated routine immunisation programme can save 1.2 million lives between 2015 and 2020, adding that delaying introduction of the new vaccines by one year would result in 5,000 more deaths over 2015 and 2020, while delaying by two years would result in 50,000 more deaths within the same period, and choosing not to introduce or sustain key vaccines would result in fewer lives saved.