By Folasade Folarin
Abuja- Dr Mairo Mandara, the Country Representative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says the organisation is doing everything possible to eradicate malaria worldwide.
Mandara, who said this at a news conference in Abuja on Friday, noted that eradicating malaria in the world was possible, just like it had done with polio which was almost being eradicated.
“We want to eradicate malaria on earth, can you imagine a malaria-free world?
“When Mr Gates talked about a world that will be free from polio, people thought he was joking but now we have polio in only three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
“Nigeria is almost there, but for the insurgency in some part of the north where we have pockets of children that are not immunised, so we are going to eradicate polio and after we do that we will go after malaria.’’
According to her, the biggest interventions of the foundation in Nigeria has been in polio eradication and strengthening routine immunisation.
The others were family health, nutrition, agriculture, strategic partnerships, integrated delivery and financial inclusion.
Mandara said that the foundation believed that no child should die because of preventable diseases, adding that it would ensure that every disease that had a vaccine would not kill children anymore.
She said that the foundation was also taking measures to ensure that as many mothers as possible had essential maternal, newborn and child care.
Mandara added that it was also supporting families to make informed decisions about the type of families they want to have to enable them access the family planning options available.
“We are also investing in nutrition in partnership with the Dangote Foundation to make sure that the most critical portion of a person’s life is taken care of.
“We believe that life is not just health but is about livelihood as well, so we support agriculture and the group of people we support are small-holder farmers.
“You support these farmers who form the majority of rural dwellers with good seed, fertilisers and understanding of the soil, give them insecticides and make sure that they have the best yields.
“Then you also help to lift them to the markets, by so doing, you are supporting the whole value chain and instead of a little amount, they will make more and get value for their hard work.’’
Mandara said that the foundation supports governments to strengthen already existing policies and interventions, adding that it did not have initiatives of its own.
She said that the foundation believed that governments and the people had fantastic ideas which it only supports to help them harness and realise.
She said that the foundation did not estimate how much would be invested on a nation but based its investments on the needs on ground.
“Five years ago, we spent about 35 million dollars, but last year alone, we spent 250 million dollars because the needs were high and we had to spend the money.
“We see the need and then address the need based increasingly on partnership with the government, we look at what the government is trying to put on its own scale and then partner with them.”
She, however, said that the foundation was presently not involved in educational interventions, but that it had set up a team to do an analysis on global education to see if there was the need for it to invest in education.
She said that before embarking on any intervention, the foundation must have a rationale for doing so.
Mandara said that it was the hope of the foundation that Nigerians would take the lead in sorting out their health systems in the next five years.
She added that all donours and international communities were in support of this because it was sustainable.
“We want to see a situation where everybody, regardless of where you live in the country can access basic healthcare services, universal health coverage for all and I have no doubt Nigeria can do it.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been supporting humanitarian cause in Nigeria through donations to the government and other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) for more than 10 years.