By Racheal Ishaya
Abuja – Mr Bill Gates, the Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says his Foundation has invested more than one billion dollars in Nigeria’s healthcare system.
Gates said this on Thursday in Abuja when he led a delegation from the Foundation to meet with the Minister of Finance on vaccines financing programme in Nigeria.
“Our Foundation has invested over one billion dollars in Nigeria, mostly in health and we are very committed to global development.
“We want to discuss vaccine financing and the issue of how we can be effective as partners for the health resources to grow over time.’’
Gates said that the Foundation was also in discussion with the Nigerian Minister of Health, to support local production of vaccines.
He urged the government to seek private sector support in this regard.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun thanked the Bill Gates Foundation for its investment in vaccines and other primary healthcare services in the country.
She said that the government had inaugurated the campaign to improve tax collection so as to boost its domestic resources and reduce its over dependence on donour agencies.
“As government, we are very committee to solving our health care challenges. We feel that there is enough potential revenue and actual revenue in this country to fund these priorities and they must be funded.
“We are committed to that, from domestic mobilisation perspective because we have the lowest tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio in the world and we are doing something about it.
“We are trying to get more people involved in tax payment so that we can fund basic health care.
“There is no way around it because no matter how much support we get from donours, we must have structures to be able to meet these basic obligations,’’ she said.
Adeosun said that the government was also looking into local production of vaccines to create jobs and also save foreign exchange.
She said one of the problems of the government in terms of improving healthcare was not necessarily money, but rather accurate data to know exactly where that money would make the most impact.
Adeosun said that improving financial inclusion would translate to improved data collection on access to health as well as improve primary healthcare service in the country. (NAN)