Nigeria President lauds Bill and Melinda Gates’ anti-polio campaign

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Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has praised the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their plans to develop an effective malaria vaccine by 2015, after the foundation helped reduce polio cases in Nigeria from 256 in 2009 to three in 2010.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife have contributed immensely to Nigeria’s healthcare delivery and President Jonathan has shown gratitude to the philanthropy of the world richest man.

“I thank you for what you are doing for the world. Thank you for all the time and money you have been investing to make the world safer and healthier,” an official statement quoted Jonathan as saying during the meeting.

“Thank you also for what you are doing for Nigeria as a nation. We appreciate and commend your efforts,” President Jonathan stated.

According to reports, the U.S. billionaire had visited Nigeria to inquire what was needed to ensure that polio never re-emerged on a large scale in the country.

Nigeria had witnessed a greater reduction in polio cases than any country in the world. The polio-endemic northern state of Kano which was once considered as the epicenter of the transmission of the viral disease throughout the world had recorded significant progress, Gates confirmed during his visit.

“It is fantastic to be here to see so much progress… in reducing the polio burden. The good result we have seen this year in Kano is a combination of good work and some good luck that the virus has not come back from any of the neighbouring countries,” Gates told a gathering of political and traditional leaders in Kano.

Bill Gates also annouced that the Gates Foundation would develop an effective malaria vaccine by 2015, to combat malaria in Africa.

In 2009, the northern states of Nigeria experienced a large polio outbreak due to wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) with 258 cases, compared to 32 cases for the same period in 2008, as well as type 2 circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV2). WPV3 from northern Nigeria spread internationally to Niger.

In response to the risks, Nigeria conducted nationwide polio supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) with monovalent OPV type 3 (mOPV3) in late January 2009 and with trivalent OPV from 30 May to 2 June 2009.

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