Renowned billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and six state governors from the Northern part of Nigeria have signed a memorandum of understanding on routine immunization.
The benefiting states are Bauchi, Borno, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto and Yobe.
The two tycoons entered into the partnership through their foundations, Bill and Melinda Gates and Dangote Foundations respectively.
The MoU signing ceremony, held this morning in Kaduna, had Gates and Dangote in attendance as well as governors of the six states.
Gates and Dangote had in the past collaborated on ending polio eradication.
In his address, the host governor, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai said the governors were united in their desire to improve education and healthcare of their people as a means of guaranteeing quality population.
According to him, improving healthcare borders on provision of quality services and investing in the capacity of the health personnel.
Governor el-Rufai however lamented negligence of the two important aspects of healthcare delivery by successive administrations in the country.
“Indeed, immunizing a child should be a simple and routine. But across Nigeria, the health system has not been invested with the capacity to consistently provide even routine services at a high standard. This partnership is about changing that,” he said.
The governor maintained that checking communicable diseases depends on a reliable supply of vaccines “in the right quantities at the right time, with sustained potency, to our health facilities.”
“And if we can do that for vaccines, we can deploy same for every other health commodity our people need.
“Second, we have to ensure our health workers are well trained, managed, supervised and deployed in a rationale way.
“That’s particularly important when it comes to fighting infectious diseases, such as measles. Our goal in Kaduna State, for instance, is to achieve more than 80% coverage in every ward.
“So it won’t work if we provide immunization here in Kaduna, but fail to reach all children in far way Sanga.
“And because of our success on polio, the door is open for us to focus on other key health services, starting with immunization. We have a lot of work to do, and I’m delighted that we are doing it together,” el-Rufai said.
The ceremony, held at the Kaduna Government House, was witnessed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad III and the emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammadu Sanusi II.