Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, Mr. Bill Gate and that of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote have put together the sum of $6billion to purchase vaccines in a bid to eradicate polio from Africa.
The two chiefs of multinational corporations made the revelation during a courtesy call to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola in Lagos.
Gate told the governor that he and Dangote met President Goodluck Jonathan on the issue of eradicating polio from Nigeria and Africa in general. The CEO of Microsoft explained that it would be a wonderful idea to eradicate polio from the whole world.”
“Dangote and I met with the President on many health issues. We talked about those issues. I came in yesterday very late. I am ambitious to improve primary health care. This is the second time I have been to this city. I was here briefly about eight years ago. As I see, it looks much nicer now than eight years ago. I have seen the parks, the economic growth and the roads anyway. I am excited to see the good things that happen here.
“In the area of health, there is much progress. But there is a lot to be done. It is wonderful to have this state being in the lead of very high immunisation rate in reducing the child death rate. In our foundation and Dangote Foundation, we have been around the country to see how we can help you achieve health goals. Nigeria, as a whole, has a large number of children who do not get vaccine. As a result of that, the death rate is over-double, even in the state over-double. Some of the things we talk about today and some of the things we saw today including the vaccine chain barrier made case for improvement. We are committed and excited to help out and to work with you.
“Eradicating polio will be wonderful for the entire world. I am very optimistic we are going to eradicate polio. In Asia, we have it in two countries namely Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have not got to zero. In Africa, Nigeria, of course primarily in the North, has not got to zero. Even in the South, we have the cases of polio…. We also have the same issue in Somalia and Syria. As we said, a lot of people are misunderstanding the vaccine. We have been doing what we can with the traditional leaders and government leaders, who have people’s trust to help talk about the vaccine.
“We have issues getting the children in satellite North and in tracking the team to ensure that they go where they are supposed to go. In the last two years, there has been unrest in the North-East. We have been having many cases since last year. In Yobe, it appears we cannot even get half of the children. We have raised $6 billion to get it done in the next seven years. We should work hard to eradicate polio”, he said.
While responding, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola commended the initiative between the two.
“I want to commend the initiative you have pursued with our brother Aliko. The tragedy of the existence of wild polio virus in this part of the world as one of the few parts is something we are not proud of .All of what needs to be done is out there in terms of knowledge. It is not so much that those who have to act don’t know what to do. It is perhaps the approach we have pursued in trying to get what needs to be done. Whether we have done so well as a team or we have stood out in silos. One of the initiatives I threw to the governors’ forum about four years ago was that governors should leads initiative of vaccination and in that way hopefully we would demonstrate how important it is for us.
“Before then we had left it in the hands of our wives. My colleagues were very gracious in seeing the necessity for these and some progress as you remarked have been made looking at what we have done and what needs to be done, logistical issue, sustenance of the core chain, issues not unconnected with infrastructure limitation, transportation, management of people entrusted with responsibility, some cultural issues. It is all mixed bag.
“I think we are in the march towards eradicating the virus. We have not put the voices of the survivors in the forefront of the campaign such that the voices of the policy makers have drowned those of the victims themselves”, he said.