Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help curtail spread of Polio by influx of children infected with the virus from neighboring Benin and Niger republics.
Bagudu, who received a delegation of WHO led by County Representative, Dr Wondi Alemu, in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday, said the influx of infected children had reduced Polio immunisation performance index.
“Our state has porous border with neighboring Benin and Niger republics.
“Most of the children we have on the streets are beggars or out of school who are not from the state not even from this country, but from the two countries.
“We are known for Islamic scholarship as a result of that citizens from the two countries send their children to acquire Islamic education in our state,” he said.
He appealed to the WHO to consider increasing funding to tackle health challenges commensurate with the population of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states with about 11 million people.
He described the WHO donation to the three states as inadequate when compared to the amount received by Asian and Latin American developing countries.
“While we are not implying that we want to be dependent on WHO’s assistance but the assistance is needed by a country in need of it at the time of need,’’ Bagudu said.
According to him, Kebbi has the largest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the whole of North West Nigeria, noting that about 60 per cent of fishermen in Borno are from Kebbi.
“A few months ago we received about 7,000 IDPs from Niger Republic,” he added.
He said the influx of IDPs was a challenge to the state health sector.
The governor commended development partners for the engagement in the health sector, while appreciating the efforts of WHO in the eradication of polio and improvement of the health sector.
However, he thanked traditional and religious leaders for their support and participation in polio immunisation campaigns and actualisation in the state.
Alemu had earlier said the team was in the state to review what the government was doing and its efforts in health care service delivery as well as challenges faced on polio immunisation in the state.
He said the organisation was looking forward to building capacity on surveillance on polio and other diseases.
“We are determined to improve regular supervision on capacity surveillance, strengthen gains and evaluation of health sector,” he said.
He advised the state government to strengthen the health sector, especially improvement of laboratory system, adding that some diseases could be diagnosed via laboratory channels before they escalate.
He commended the state government for the restoration and increase of counterpart funding to support WHO’s activities.