By SundiataPOST, Abuja
Founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill Gates on Tuesday, called for sustained collaborative efforts of stakeholders to eradicate the wild polio virus from Nigeria.
Gates made the call when he led other members of his foundation on a courtesy call on Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State at the Government House in Ikeja.
He said that laxity in the efforts at wiping out the scourge would be counter-productive as the presence of the virus in any part the country posed a threat to the entire nation.
Gates said that Nigeria had made some progress, but pointed out that the country was still at great risk with the poor vaccination coverage in some parts of the country.
President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, was among those who accompanied Gates on the visit.
“ Yes, so much progress has been made against polio but there is still much to be done.
“In Asia, it is only in Pakistan and Afghanistan where we are yet to record zero prevalence, and in Africa, Nigeria, primarily in the North.
“Vaccination could not get to almost half of the children in the North East due to the unrest there and that is dangerous.
`So, we are saying, everybody, traditional rulers, community leaders, governments, individuals and all other stakeholders need to collaborate to effectively fight the menace,’’ Gates said.
The philanthropist said that his foundation was spending about six billion dollars on the eradication of the scourge in Nigeria and other high risk countries.
Gates praised the efforts of the state government in eradicating polio and other diseases, saying his foundation would collaborate with the state to enhance healthcare delivery.
Fashola thanked Gates for his anti-polio initiative in the country, saying his efforts had considerably helped to reduce its prevalence.
The governor said that it was regrettable that Nigeria was still among the countries with high polio prevalence.
He blamed the situation on factors such as ignorance, religion, cultural beliefs, among others.