Society / Health & Science
Tuesday, 25 Apr 2017 22:10 EAT
A a successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and the civil society will go along way in helping Africa eradicate polio, top billionaires-cum-philanthropists Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates have said. The duo are also urging all the key actors in the fight against polio to keep innovating to speed up progress made so far.
In an opinion article, Dangote a Nigerian entrepreneur and Gates, an American who co-founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife, emphasize the importance of accurate and reliable data to any effort to improve health. Dangote, 60, is the owner of Dangote which has interest in commodities, while Gates, 61, is a business magnate, investor, author, and philanthropist.
"Data can tell a health officer which communities are running low on vaccine supplies, where there are gaps in vaccination coverage, and which new mothers need reminders to take their babies to the health clinic to be immunized"', they said.
This month, for example, vaccinators will test a new vaccine carrier that keeps the temperature of vaccines stable for up to five days, even in blistering heat. They penned their opinion ahead of the dispatching of more than 138,000 vaccinators across five African countries in the Lake Chad area in a push to eliminate polio in Africa and rid the world of this terrible disease forever. The vaccinators are targeting Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. The exercise also marks this week's World Immunization Day.
In a news dispatch from New York, distributed by the African Press Organization (APO), say a coordinated effort to make sure that people everywhere understand the importance of getting immunized to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases will take the effort a step further. "Since our first meeting in 2010, the two of us have worked together on a range of other projects to help improve health in Nigeria and across Africa," they said..
The dedicated vaccinators will take boats across fast-flowing rivers, ride jeeps along sandy ravines, walk crowded street in towns and cities and navigate cramped quarters of refugee camps to ensure that every child is immunized. "And by coincidence, it was almost seven years ago that the two of us first met in a hotel conference room in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital." "We were there as part of a diverse group public officials, religious leaders, business people, polio survivors, and journalists to discuss how we could work together to stop polio in Nigeria."
They hailed Nigeria for doing an amazing job tackling polio—reducing reported cases by 95 percent in just one year. But it was still circulating in six Nigerian states. While 95 percent might seem like success, as long as a single child remains infected, children across Africa and around the world are at risk.
Traveling for hours a day, these dedicated women and men will visit children in homes, schools, train stations, and transit points across. The duo believe that strengthening health systems is the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty and disease and kick-starting a virtuous cycle of health, productivity, and prosperity.
They cited their contribution in the fight against Ebola in 2014 in three west African states and the establishment of emergency operations centre in Nigeria to keep polio from spreading. ''We know that strengthening health systems takes time and diligence. We are optimistic that Africa can achieve the future it aspires to.An Africa without polio is within reach,'' they said.