Nigeria gets 10 more years of GAVI support – Health Minister

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Nigeria will not graduate from the GAVI intervention funds for the next 10 years as the ‘expiration term’ of the country has been extended to allow the country prepare to take over, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole has said.

The minister made this revelation at the launch of Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE), by the World Health Organisation in Abuja on Tuesday.

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Present at the event was the WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, Deputy Director–General, six regional directors, and Executive Director of the WHO emergencies programmes and heads of health parastatals in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, Mr Adewole revealed that contrary to previous notion that Nigeria might soon graduate from receiving vaccinations from GAVI, the country has received grace of ten years to put in place mechanism to sustain immunisation process.

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Nigeria has been tagged to graduate from the scheme after the country had declared that it had graduated from the low income economy to the middle income economy.

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This automatically disqualifies the country from benefiting from the GAVI intervention funds.

The country was expected to graduate and begin taking care of the immunisation challenges five years after the declaration.

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The minister however said GAVI had reconsidered the country’s early graduation.

“In 2014 the minister of finance announced to the whole world that we are no longer a low income country, GAVI thus said we are going, that we have to graduate, under normal condition, we are expected to graduate within five years but given that Nigeria is just coming out of recession, we have been talking to GAVI to allow us a special favour to stretch the graduation period from five to ten years and GAVI has agreed provided we meet certain conditionality.

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”This conditionality’s includes a strong commitment from the government of Nigeria to put more money in immunisation and we are getting a ‘yes’ feedback from government. GAVI is giving us a ten-year period to get up and take over the immunisation of our children and citizens of the country,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, the Director General WHO, Tedros Ghebreyessus, said the agency is collaborating with the Nigerian government to solicit for more time to graduate from GAVI intervention.

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Mr Ghebreyesus said many preventable diseases could be prevented through routine vaccination and Nigeria still needs help to achieving the feat before graduating.

He explained that WHO has advised that GAVI should still keep supporting Nigeria as one of the problems in the vaccine sector is the shortage of most vaccines which has made the purchase expensive for most countries.

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Speaking on the Yellow Fever vaccination campaign to be conducted in Nigeria and 26 other high burden risk African countries, Mr Ghebreyesus said WHO in partnership with GAVI and other health partners decided to step in because there is limited stock of the vaccine in the world.

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He said there will be a need for the expansion of vaccine production companies as most of the companies producing manufacture limited quantity.

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