Nigeria Approves 54 Billion Naira World Bank Loan To Fight Polio
Nigeria is one of only three countries that have yet to eradicate polio.
At some point, it was thought that the country had been rid of the virus which affects mostly children, but it surfaced in a Northeast state in 2016.
Now, the federal government appears determined to fight it headlong.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun announced that the government has given the greenlight for a $150 million, about 54-billion-naira loan from the World Bank to help eradicate polio and scale up immunization.
After a global effort to wipe out polio, there were just 22 cases on earth last year, down from 350,000 30 years ago, according to the World Health Organization.
But until the disease is fully eradicated, there is always a risk it could return, putting children at risk worldwide.
Nigeria was on the verge of eradicating the virus but recorded its first case in two years in 2016.
It is now one of only three countries left on earth where polio still exists, along with Pakistan and Afghanistan, the WHO says.
Nigeria has recorded no new cases in 21 months and could be certified polio free by July 2019 if none are found.
The 20-year loan comes with a 1.25% interest rate and no payments are due for five years. The funds would be applied in 12 states, mostly in the northern part of Nigeria, some of which have been hit by Boko Haram insurgency.
Adeosun said the World Bank loan would help the government achieve and sustain at least 80% oral polio vaccine coverage in every state in Nigeria and improve immunisation as part of a global polio eradication effort.
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