Nigeria depends on foreign donors to procure vaccine & health facilities
By Odimegwu Onwumere
The Federal Government of Nigeria was excited when in June 2012, the Gates Foundation and the British Government agreed to match contributions to GAVI-Alliance from corporations, foundations, their customers, employees, business partners and members to raise US$ 260 million for immunisation through 2015.
It was aimed towards the new pentavalent vaccine, which was said would save about 30,000 children in Nigeria, annually. The pentavalent vaccine was said to be capable of protecting against five deadly diseases – diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis b and haemophilus influenza type b – all through a single dose.
While it was introduced in 2012, GAVI approximated that 72 GAVI-entitled countries would be using this life-saving vaccine by 2013 in their regular immunisation systems. Nigeria was worried when a testimony accounted her as among the countries where children had no access to routine immunisation and that she accounted for 1.7 million of the 19.3 million children who did not receive habitual immunisation in 2010. The country was bent on eradicating killer diseases in the citizenry that in 2013, it was out to introduce pneumococcal vaccines, which would assist in helping to protect against pneumonia, regarded as the world’s biggest killer of children under the age of five.
The Managing Director of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical in Nigeria, Mr. Lekan Asuni, was the manufacturer of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine. Organisations such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was commended by GAVI for its US$ 1.5 million gift and the volunteer work of LDS members to sustain immunisation programmes through the GAVI-Alliance.
Nigeria’s premium to vaccine
Nigeria was gaining momentum to optimise immunization of vaccines to children less than five years of age through procurement of polio vaccine, thereby contributing to polio eradication in Nigeria. She was not happy been listed under the three remaining countries that included Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where wild poliovirus still exists. The country was not sleeping on her oars watching diseases take toll on her citizens. As far back as 1979, she initiated Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) through the Federal Ministry of Health.
In her continues effort to place high priority on immunization, Nigeria took a new drive in 1999, and established the National Programme on Immunization (NPI), whose chief centre was to offer maintenance to the functioning of state and Local Government Area (LGA) immunization programmes. In a testimony by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), “WHO provided technical support to national authorities at federal, state, local government and ward level to strengthen the implementation of the Reaching Every Ward (REW) strategy and the Government of Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding with WHO to conduct training on the strategy for health workers at national, state, local government and ward levels.”
Nigeria and vaccine grants
By May 2014, Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation guaranteed $85m Japanese loan for Nigeria's Polio Eradication Project. It was believed that the foundation was to write off the loan if Nigeria meets the required immunization coverage rates. It was in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria that the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ryuich Shoji and now, the out gone Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, signed the agreement for both countries, correspondingly.
"The Federal Government is committed to interrupting polio transmission in Nigeria in 2014. We shall do all within our powers to ensure that we meet the target of the polio eradication project in Nigeria," Professor Chukwu said.
Nigeria gets support
Japan might be the highest donor to Nigeria in the war against polio and other related diseases across the country. In September 2007, Immunization programme in Lagos State was on the verge to receive assistance from the new vaccine cold room commissioned on 16 September in Lagos State Old Secretariat, Ikeja, Lagos State. Such bodies like the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Clinton Health and Access Initiative, GlaxoSmithKline and other partners in the routine immunisation landscape in Nigeria, have been of help to Nigeria.
Since 2000 to 2007, it was examined that the Government of Japan made a total donation of N4.56 billion to UNICEF, doubling her annual donation with an involvement reaching to N1.16 billion. These donations were said to be meant for the procurement of polio vaccines, cold chain equipment, Long Lasting Insecticide Nets and child survival supplies that could be used during Immunization Plus Days. By March this year, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), supported Nigerian Government on DWN DONATIONS, with a loan worth of N18.6 billion vaccines to be procured through the UNICEF.
Nigeria’s out going JICA’s Country Chief, Tetsuo Seki, while presenting evidence of the loan release to the Chief Executive of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad, in Abuja, said the loan would be paid in 20 years, with a grace period of seven years. He further made known that JICA had supported Nigeria’s immunisation programmes in the last 10 years to the tune of $100 million.
But speaking at the launch of the vaccine in Eneka Primary Health Centre in Rivers state, Dr. Muhammad said that the Federal Government had spent over one billion naira within two years to expand the country’s cold chain infrastructure at all levels in preparation for the new vaccine introduction. He added that over ten million doses of the pentavalent vaccines had been paid for by the Federal Government for distribution to thirteen states and FCT.
He included the states in the first phase of the introduction as Jigawa, Kaduna, Adamawa, Bau-chi, Kwara and FCT; while others were Plateau, Enugu, Anambra, Rivers, Edo, Akwa-Ibom, Ekiti and Lagos States; and the remaining parts of the country, he assured would be covered within time.
Japan’s donated cold room in Lagos
The cold room project was commissioned then by the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, Japan Embassy Minister Counsellor, Mr. Seisuke Narumiya, representing His Excellency Mr. Akio Tanaka, Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria and, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Assistant Country Representative, Mr. Karim Akadiri. Also present was the Assistant Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, South-West Zone, Dr. (Mrs) Modupeola Oyesiji.
“The cold room which was commissioned is part of the cold chain equipment funded by the Government of Japan and procured through UNICEF for storage of vaccines at State and Local Government level. The total cost for this cold room is N3.5 million. Its size is 40 m3, therefore provides capacity to store enough vaccines to fully immunize 480,000 children each year. In Lagos State, there are 1.8 million children under five eligible for polio vaccine and other antigens,” an expert who pleaded anonymity said.
Dr. Idris was of the view that Lagos State Government was dedicated to accomplish 80% everyday immunization coverage rate and to improve the health of all young children. And that the cold store would greatly help in achieving the objective. A broadsheet account revealed that: “A total of four such cold rooms were procured with Japanese funds for Nigeria (for the States of Lagos, Kano, Rivers and Borno).”
The source continued that the UNICEF provided to the 36 States of the Federation, “172 vaccine fridges, 40 freezers, 237 vaccine cold boxes for transporting vaccines, 1,300 geothermal vaccine carriers, 155 ice-lined refrigerators for ice-packs, 5,000 ice packs – all of them funded by Japan. These equipments maintain vaccines within recommended temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. This is of paramount importance to keep to vaccine quality.”
Mr. Narumiya, representing His Excellency Tanaka, at the ceremony, said, the Japanese Government was ecstatic to donate to save the life of Nigerian children through the Lagos cooperation with UNICEF.
“Our assistance is part of my government’s efforts in reaching the Millennium Development Goals set for 2015,” he said. While according to WHO Country Director, Dr. Rui VAS, “The introduction of PCV in Nigeria will ultimately improve the Child Health outcome of the country and accelerate the progress of the country towards achieving the MDG4 Goal.”
Nigeria continues to benefit from foreign donors
When Nigeria was said to lose a whooping N81 billion to annual medical tourism for the simple reason that she lacked sound health system, on Monday, January 28, 2013, the country received medical aid from the Peoples Republic of China.
China donated a 150-bed facility, which costs the Chinese government $12.5 million to construct and equip, to the Federal Staff Hospital to assist medical care in Nigeria. Although, accounts were that Nigeria donated 4.85 hectares of land, where the hospital was built and also provided the necessary infrastructural facilities, which included portable water, electricity and temporary access roads.
Nigeria hopes and welcomes the aids
President Goodluck Jonathan affirmed that the hospital had first class facilities. He looked up that the hospital would assist in reducing the number of patients that need to be transferred abroad for progressive medical conduct.
“This hospital was constructed by the government of Peoples Republic of China as part of effort to support our country’s development drive. We welcome in particular the growing strong relationship between the people and government of China and our people and country for the benefit of all parties in the interest of our dear countries,” President Jonathan who was represented by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo said, while receiving the key to the hospital from the Chinese government.
President Jonathan reiterated that his government’s commitment towards transformation agenda and the national development objective including the Vision 20:2020 was being strengthened: “We have put in place a solid programme involving Nigeria’s private health sector alliance and the National Food and Drug Administration and Control to encourage the domestic production of essential medicines.
“The Ministries of Health and Communication Technology are also collaborating with other stakeholders to increase the use of technology in improving health services in addition to the provision of other necessary health infrastructure across the country.”
Nigeria looks up to China
Amongst other countries, Nigeria has been looking up to China in her development quest for several decades. It was President Jonathan who disclosed this, saying that the relationship between the people of the Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Nigeria dates back to February 10, 1970, when the diplomatic relation was established.
He observed that between 1999 and 2005, former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited China thrice. In 2008, late President Yar’adua also paid a state visit to China. This administration has further built on this robust engagement with China, resulting in stronger cooperation and collaboration in various strategic areas of mutual interest.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Deng Boqing, remarked that, “in 2006, at the Beinjing Summit of China-Africa Cooperation Forum, the Chinese government declared eight measures to help African countries to raise the people’s livelihood and further promote the friendly relations between China and African countries.
“China has also completed training 2,092 Nigerian officials and technicians; the Chinese government has done its best to support and assist Nigeria in achieving its social developments with the implementation of several aid projects including 600 boreholes in 14 states, anti-malaria drugs have been donated five times, four rural primary schools in FCT, Katsina, Kaduna and Ogun States.”
One of the measures, he said, was that China would build 30 hospitals in Africa of which Nigeria was chosen to be one of the recipient countries. With a total of $12.5 million, the hospital has been built and completed within 22 months.