By Adedayo Akinwale
The United Kingdom has said that it invested the sum of £1.7 billion since 1995 to help end polio in Nigeria.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday at a virtual session of the 70th Regional Committee announced that Africa was free of the wild polio virus.
The Senior Press & Public Affairs Officer of British High Commission, Abuja, Mr. Christopher Ogunmodede, said UK played a major role in Nigeria’s journey to become polio free.
He stated: “The UK is the second largest governmental donor in Nigeria after the US Government in the continuing fight against infectious diseases such as polio.
“As a longstanding supporter of the polio programme, the UK has invested £1.7 billion to help end polio since 1995. Our most recent pledge was of £400 million in 2019, which will help to vaccinate 400 million children a year against the disease in the period 2020-2023.
“While our funding to GPEI at a global level is unrestricted, we estimate that in the last decade WHO Nigeria received the equivalent of US $155.5 million (£120 million) of UK’s contribution to support various GPEI projects in the country, with an estimated contribution of $10.2 million just for 2020.”
Nigeria was the last country in Africa to be declared “wild polio free”, and last recorded the presence of wild poliovirus in 2016.
After four years and following data verification by the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC), Africa can now be certified as having eradicated wild poliovirus.
With Africa certified wild polio free this year, wild polio is only now endemic in two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.