The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency has sought the cooperation of the military to reach and immunise children in 2 622 remote communities in Borno State against the polio virus.
Dr. Faisal Shuaibu, the Director-General of NPHDA, made the appeal in Maiduguri when he led a team from the Agency on a visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai.
Shuaibu said Nigeria is due to be certified polio free in October, adding that cooperation from the military, especially Nigerian Army, was imperative to reach children in those remote communities.
He said: “The Agency and the Army have worked tremendously well in the last two years to ensure that even children in the most difficult terrain were immunised.
“Under the Chief of Army Staff, we have set up an initiative that we call the Buratai Initiative, reaching inaccessible children to ensure that immediately they are rescued, they get the oral polio vaccine.
“As result of this collaboration, we are now some six months away from being declared polio free.
“It is an amazing time for all Nigerians because from the next six months, no child will be paralysed by the wild polio virus.
“So, we are really excited about the collaboration.”
Responding, Buratai gave the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Benson Akinroluyo, and field commanders three months deadline to work with the Agency to access those communities and vaccinate the children.
Buratai said: “They are asking for six months, but I am giving the theatre commander three months to see how we can quickly achieve the desired result.
“We are involved in clearance and rescue operations.
“When we rescue women and children, especially the children that require immunisation, they are immunised.
“We have been working together.
“NPHDA provides the vaccines to our troops and as they go on in their operations, when they rescue, they immediately get them immunised.
“So, this is how we support the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.
“We have been doing this since 2017 and we will continue to do this until we complete the task.”