The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said the Federal Government would be accessing $125 million World Bank loan to tackle polio and other health challenges in the country.
The minister told the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases on Thursday in Abuja, that the total amount to be accessed after the approval of the National Assembly, would be 60 million Naira which would be earmarked for polio while the remaining fund would be used for other health problems.
He further disclosed that the sum of 10 billion Naira had been released by the federal government from the 2016 budget to tackle the epidemic.
While decrying the fresh outbreak, the minister said about 30 billion Naira would be required to tackle the menace.
He said following the outbreak, the federal government had immunized 800,000 children under the age of five in five local government areas in Borno State.
He said the local governments, which had the population of about 1 million people are Jere, Gwoza, Mafa, Maiduguri Municipality and Bama.
“The resurgence of polio is an unusual development and a major setback considering the investment of the international committee and the whole world was looking forward to celebrate Nigeria next year.
“I wasn’t expecting polio as a challenge, I was expecting teenage pregnancy and other health challenges,’’ he said.
Adewole said the ministry was working with relevant stakeholders to search for more cases, adding that “we want to assume there could be many more of the cases, we are looking for more cases.“
He added that the ministry had flagged off response channels while the team monitoring and managing the disease were working to ensure that it was nipped in the bud.
According to him, the ministry will embark on six round response programmes to immunize children under five in the whole of the country and neighbouring countries, to ensure that every potential child is immunized.
Adewole, disclosed that 300 million doses of vaccine were required to be able to carry out immunization in the country to curtail the spread of the virus.
He however said that only 100 million doses of vaccine was ground, adding that measures would be put in place to make up the required doses.
He added that the ministry was toiling with the idea of administering injectable vaccines in view of its efficacy, particularly in Borno State, rather than relying solely on oral vaccine.
The minister however said that the plans to curb the disease could change depending on subsequent developments.
He also said in view of the security situation in the North East, the medical team from the military had equally been deployed to assist experts from the ministry.
On recent case of Lassa Fever that claimed the life of a medical doctor, the minister said measures were being put in place to curb further spread.
He also said that the ministry was working with relevant agencies to check Zika disease, which was already prominent in Brazil.
The Chairman of the committee, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa, urged the ministry to embark on more sensitisation and advocacy.
He expressed displeasure with the ministry of health for not involving the legislature before now.
“If we didn’t initiate this meeting we would not have been carried along.
“ I expect that immediately you had this outbreak, you alert us and say areas we could collaborate with you to alert state assemblies for sensitisation,’’he said.
He pledged the committee’s support for the ministry, to tackle the challenges in the health sector. (NAN)