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FG affirms commitment to funding childhood immunisation

The Federal Government says it would increase funding for routine immunisation to further strengthen primary healthcare in the country.

The Federal Government made this known in a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Communications to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Abechi, on Tuesday, in Abuja.

According to Abechi, the ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and Health, have negotiated a new financing agreement with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen Routine Immunisation (RI) and broaden primary healthcare services.

“Under the agreement, Nigeria will receive incentive financing of up to 75 million dollars over five years from the Gates Foundation as the government meets existing commitments to increase domestic funding of its RI programme.

“The incentive financing will be directly invested in Nigeria’s Basic Healthcare Provision Fund and used in strengthening routine immunisation financing and other Primary Healthcare services for the poorest,’’ he said.

Abechi said the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed described the new financing structure as ‘best buy’ for Nigeria, and extremely high value-for-money.

“This innovative financing will allow us to limit trade-offs in the health sector by ensuring that every additional Naira released for vaccines unlocks additional resources for broader primary healthcare improvements,’’ she said.

Also, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma said childhood immunisation would translate to better long-term investments in Nigeria’s human capital and future prosperity.

Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said implementation of the Nigeria Strategy for Immunisation and Primary Healthcare Strengthening would save millions of lives.

“We know that a strong overall primary healthcare system can take care of more than 80 per cent of Nigerians’ health needs.

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“So full utilisation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund will go that much further,’’ he said.

Also, Dr Paulin Basinga, Nigeria Country Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the new financing agreement would ensure that children have the vaccines they need for the next ten years and beyond.

“We know this isn’t easy, given the many demands on Nigeria’s limited resources.

“So, we are pleased to extend the health benefits of fulfilling this pledge even further by supporting primary healthcare for all of Nigeria’s children and families,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that under the agreement, the Gates Foundation will provide up to 15 million dollars per annum for five years to the Federal Government of Nigeria for financing Primary Healthcare.

Payments will be made based on the conditions that the Federal Government is budgeting for routine Immunisation programmes every financing year.

Part of the condition is that a sustainable balance of direct budget contributions and loans are being directed to routine immunisation and that budgeted funds are released as required for the immunisation programmes.

The government is also expected to focus on improved data accuracy and sustain efforts to stop polio transmission.

Disbursement of the funds will be done through the country’s Basic Healthcare Provision Fund so long as the fund continues to meet its operational guidelines. (NAN)