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President Muhammadu Buhari has reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to financing its immunisation and vaccination obligations.

This is in a bid to ensure that children aged zero to five continually have access to the routine jabs that immunize them against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Mr Buhari, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES by the State House on Tuesday, said the government would also honour its financial commitment to the international vaccine body.

The statement said Mr Buhari spoke while receiving members of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), in the State House, Abuja.

He said Nigeria would continue to provide counterpart funds and also work on strategies to gradually improve fiscal sustainability of the immunisation programme by 2028.

The GAVI team which visited the president was led by its CEO, Seth Berkeley.

Mr Buhari assured the team that Nigeria remains focused on finding sustainable ways of financing its immunisation and vaccination obligations.

He applauded GAVI for its over one billion dollars support to Nigeria since 2001, especially through the provision of vaccines to millions of people across the country.

“We have experienced various fiscal and security challenges that have hindered our ability to fully finance the vaccines by 2021 as originally planned.

“I am, therefore, pleased that GAVI has extended its co-financing support period from 2021 to 2028, and has also committed over three billion dollars in new funding for vaccines, cold chain infrastructure and health system strengthening across the country.” he said.

In his remark, Mr Berkley commended what he called “increase in national immunisation coverage between 2016 and now”.

He said there was excellent inter-ministerial collaboration to achieve the milestone.

He urged state governments to invest in vaccination and immunisation, adding that poverty reduction must equally be a goal in the country.

Immunisation in Nigeria

GAVI has been supporting Nigeria in the provision of vaccines and immunisation coverage for over 10 years.

The international agency is providing funding to match a counterpart fund by the government to purchase vaccines and fund logistics.

Nigeria was meant to graduate from the GAVI programme this year after the country had declared that it had graduated from the low-income economy to a middle-income economy.

However, the tenure was extended last year by 10 years.

This is expected to help Nigeria prepare to take over the full financial responsibility of routine immunisation in the country.

The country was expected to graduate and begin taking care of the immunisation challenges five years after the declaration

The extension is to help Nigeria cement the gain it has made in immunisation coverage in the country.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said earlier that the country has improved in routine immunisation coverage in the past years.

The Executive Director of the Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said the coverage rate has moved from 50 per cent in 2015 to 57 per cent in 2018.

Despite this claim of improvement, millions of children continue to die of vaccine-preventable diseases in the country.

These diseases include Yellow fever, measles, meningitis and polio.

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