The richest man in Africa and the wealthiest man from the United States have formed an alliance against Polio in Nigeria. This was announced during a ceremony in Kano state, Nigeria.
The four-year partnership will see the Bill and Melinda Gates and Dangote Foundations provide funding, equipment and technical support to the Kano State Government to strengthen Polio immunisation.
Eradicating polio “will be Kano’s gift to Nigeria and Nigeria’s gift to the world,” Jeff Raikes, the head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said at the ceremony.
Dangote, who is from Kano state, said, “Myself and Bill Gates met in New York and agreed to partner and intervene in Polio eradication. There is no reason for any one of us not to assist in keeping our people healthy,” said Dangote.
Since 2003, Kano had been especially hard-hit by the transmission of the Polio virus in Nigeria following the State Government’s suspension of immunisations for 13 months. The suspension followed allegations by some Muslim clerics that the vaccine was laced with substances that could render girls infertile as part of US-led Western plot to depopulate Africa.
Despite the resumption of Polio immunisations, Kano has continued to record Polio cases as many parents still reject the vaccine. The WHO said earlier this year that an Islamist insurgency in the country’s northeast was harming efforts to eradicate Polio due to insecurity.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest oil producer, has pledged to stop Polio virus transmission by the end of 2013.
The amounts the two foundations intend to commit in the partnership were not disclosed.