The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday, in Abuja, expressed optimism that African countries can defeat the COVID-19 pandemic the same way it eradicated the wild poliovirus on the continent.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President spoke at the formal certification of the wild poliovirus eradication in the African region during the virtual session of the 70th World Health Organisation’s regional committee for Africa.
The statement was titled ‘Like polio, we can defeat COVID-19, President Buhari declares, lauds Aliko Dangote, Bill Gates, Emeka Offor, others.’
Adesina quoted the President as saying that “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.”
Buhari assured the global community that Nigeria will sustain the momentum and leverage on the lessons learnt from polio eradication to strengthen her health system, especially primary health care, and prioritize health security.
He said Nigeria used data systems, community engagement and innovative technology to monitor and predict the occurrence of polio outbreaks, adding that these same skills and tools are being used to fight COVID-19 and the multi-country outbreaks of Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Viruses.
Buhari, who described the achievement as a truly historic moment, commended President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Chairman of the African Union, under whose leadership, Africa crossed the finishing line.
He recounted that the journey to eradicate the virus dates back to 1996, when late Nelson Mandela inaugurated the Kick Polio out of Africa campaign.
The Nigerian leader also seized the opportunity to congratulate Dr. Matshidiso Moeti and the WHO Regional Committee for Africa on their untiring efforts, contributions and leadership towards polio eradication in Africa.