Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

PACFaH talks tough on vaccine budget slash, seeks review

Following the World Health Organisation, WHO, declaration that Nigeria has successfully interrupted polio virus transmission as no case was detected since 2014 and commemorating 2016 Africa Vaccination Week, Partnership For Advocacy in Child and Family Health, PAcFaH, has called the Federal government to review the budget for routine immunization and polio eradication vaccines.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, PACFaH's project director, Dr. Aminu Magashi, said that, "we are concerned that the National Assembly during its review and passage of the 2016 budget submitted to them by President Muhammadu Buhari has slashed the funding for Routine Immunization and Polio Eradication from about 8 billion naira to 4 billion naira.
"This is worrisome as the funding was tied to two international commitments and this also poses a serious challenge in the country to ensure all eligible children are fully immunized in 2016.
"We are also aware that the unintentional cut in the immunization budget line was as a result of inadequate understanding by the legislature of the primary and significant purposes the fund was originally allocated to serve."
Magashi called on President Buhari to look into the budget before it is signed, stating that, "it is either the president takes the budget back to the National Assembly or requests for the supplementary budget for the money to be appropriated."
He added that Nigeria is at risk of going back to the list of polio endemic countries if it do not sustain the achievements recorded thus far as immunization is the way to save the lives of the children, reduce cost of healthcare and give the children who are the leaders of tomorrow, the opportunity to live their potential.
On the production of local vaccines in the country, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN- PACFaH program officer, Pharm. David Akpotor, said that a policy is ongoing to enable Nigerians explore the local production of vaccines, stating that," it is only if the political will is present, then we can achieve much."
He called on government to create a favourable environment to make Nigeria attractive for such companies to thrive, stressing the need for the right infrastructure to be in place.

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