The Nigerian federal government, in search of improved funding options for the health sector, has received commitments from global businessman Mr. Bill Gates and business mogul Alhaji Aliko Dangote. Mr. Gates announced that his foundation will dedicate $7 billion to Africa over the next four years. The funds will support routine immunization in Nigeria and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Northern Nigeria. Additionally, Mr. Dangote expressed his partnership with both the federal and state governments in efforts to eradicate polio, enhance routine immunization, improve nutrition, and advance primary healthcare in Nigeria.
The announcement was made during a meeting with governors convened by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at the Banquet Hall in the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Mr. Gates emphasized the significance of the National Economic Council (NEC) and the decisions it will make in determining Nigeria’s economic growth, the happiness of its citizens, and the achievement of sustainable development goals.
Governor Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), along with other governors present at the meeting, commended the philanthropic interventions of the Dangote and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations in critical areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, and human capital development. The governors expressed their readiness to further collaborate with the Dangote and Gates Foundations in the years ahead.
Vice President Kashim Shettima, who was also present at the event, addressed the financing concerns surrounding the primary healthcare system in Nigeria. He acknowledged that polio remains a major challenge in the country but noted that the three-dose pentavalent vaccine coverage has improved from 33 percent in 2016 to 57 percent in 2021. The variant poliovirus has also significantly declined by 84 percent in 2022, with fewer than 200 cases reported. Shettima praised the states that have achieved high immunization coverage, which has expanded from 12 to 21 states over the past five years.
The vice president assured the audience that the federal government and state governments are committed to implementing a transparent process and structure to address the issue of non-immunized infants. He reiterated the government’s goal of eradicating the variant poliovirus by the end of the year and ensuring comprehensive routine immunization campaigns for every Nigerian child.
Regarding the production of vaccines for children, Shettima pledged collaboration to ensure availability even for zero-dose children, of which Nigeria has the second-highest number in the world after India, at 2 million. He expressed gratitude to partners such as the Dangote Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their support during challenging times in the country’s history.