Japan, as one of the largest supporters of efforts to eradicate polio in Nigeria, has provided a grant of $33 million for emergency polio vaccination efforts in the Lake Chad region.
In response to the urgent need to increase immunity to polio in the region, Japan has provided funding from its supplementary budget to purchase polio vaccines, conduct house-to-house polio vaccination campaigns and support efforts to mobilize communities for vaccination in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
The conflict in northeast Nigeria has led to large areas of Borno state being cut off from health services and four cases of the wild poliovirus were detected last year among displaced families who had fled from inaccessible areas.
National Governments in the region, in collaboration with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), comprising the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), have implemented emergency vaccination campaigns throughout the region to rapidly raise childhood immunity to the polio virus and guard against further spread.
Most of the funding, approximately $27 million, will be used in Nigeria, where UNICEF Representative Mohamed Fall thanked the Japanese people for the generous grant. “This funding fills an urgent need in supporting the ongoing polio vaccination campaigns,” he said. “It will bring Nigeria back to being within reach of eradicating polio and will protect its neighbours against the spread of the virus.”
Japan is one of the champion donors to the GPEI and the Global Health agenda in general, with contributions to polio eradication through UNICEF since 2002 totalling more than $333 million.
This funding – and the leadership provided by both the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s innovative soft loan in partnership with BMGF in Nigeria and Pakistan for polio eradication – has proven instrumental in the historic reduction of wild poliovirus transmission globally.
In 2016, wild poliovirus transmission was limited to just 37 cases globally in the three remaining polio-endemic countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This year, to date, only two cases have been recorded worldwide, both in Afghanistan. However, while the opportunity of finally eradicating polio is real, the risk remains.
“The Government of Japan recognizes the risk that as long as even one child is infected with the poliovirus anywhere in the world, all children everywhere remain at risk,” said Sadanobu Kusaoke, Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria. “It is critical to ensure children are vaccinated against this virus until it is eradicated.” he added.
The Government of Japan is also supporting UNICEF’s work in preventing and treating malnutrition among children affected by the conflict in northeast Nigeria. This year, UNICEF estimates that some 450,000 children will suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition in the three states most affected by the conflict.