President Muhammadu Buhari has said he is optimistic that like Polio African countries would also defeat COVID-19 because of the commitment of its leaders to the course.
Buhari disclosed this when he joined the 70th World Health Organisation, WHO, regional committee for Africa for the formal certification of the Wild Polio Virus eradication in the African region in a Virtual session on Tuesday from the state House Abuja.
He said, “Eradication of polio in Nigeria was the fulfilment of his promise in 2015 upon assuming office, added that elimination of the virus encouraged him to believe that COVID-19 could also suffer similar fate in Africa.
‘‘I recall that shortly after assuming office in May 2015, I made a pledge to Nigerians that I would not bequeath a polio-endemic country to my successor.
‘‘This certification is, therefore, a personal fulfillment of that pledge to not only Nigerians, but to all Africans.
‘‘At a time when the global community is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, this achievement strengthens my conviction that with the requisite political will, investments and strategies, as well as citizens’ commitment, we will flatten the epidemic curve.
‘‘I can affirm the commitment of all African leaders to this course of action.
“The same skills and tools used to crush polio are being used to fight COVID-19 and the multi-country outbreaks of Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Viruses.
“We must guard this achievement of the eradication of Wild Polio Virus in Africa jealously and ensure that we take all necessary steps to prevent a resurgence of this dreaded disease.
‘‘This will require maintaining the highest quality of surveillance and sustaining population immunity through increasing routine immunization coverage and supplemental immunization activities.
‘‘It is heartwarming to note how the strong partnership between the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Governments of African countries worked tirelessly and collaboratively to deliver this success.”
The president also appreciated the effort of key players that have helped to achieve such feat.
He said, ‘‘I would also like to appreciate the invaluable support of our donors, development and local partners such as WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, NGOs and faith-based organizations.
‘‘These are truly the heroes and heroines of many battles that have made us triumphant in the war against polio”.
He commended the efforts of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Chairman of the African Union, under whose leadership, Africa they attained this feat.
He was also grateful to Bill and Melinda Gates, Aliko Dangote, Emeka Offor, United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, GAVI, United States Agency for International Development, USAID, European Union, EU, the Japanese and German governments and various non-governmental organisations for their roles in achieving this feat.