Japan gives $33.3 million in emergency funding to Nigeria and Lake Chad Region
New York/Tokyo, 16 February 2017
New York/Tokyo, 16 February 2017 – A $33.3 million grant from the Government of Japan in humanitarian emergency funding will allow UNICEF to protect millions of children from polio in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region and guard against the threat of the spread of the disease.
In response to the urgent need to rapidly raise immunity to polio virus in the region, Japan has generously provided exceptional funding from their supplementary budget envelope to purchase polio vaccines, conduct house-to-house polio campaigns and support communication efforts to mobilize the community for vaccination in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
A re-emergence of wild poliovirus in north-eastern Nigeria occurred in August 2016 following the large-scale movement of families affected by conflict in Borno State. National Governments, in collaboration with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), comprising the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have implemented emergency vaccination campaigns throughout the region to rapidly raise childhood immunity to the polio virus and guard against further spread.
UNICEF Director of Polio Eradication Mr Reza Hossaini said the funding filled an urgent need. “This additional funding is very timely to support the ongoing polio vaccination campaigns and give Africa the very real opportunity to be completely polio-free,” Mr Hossaini said. “These campaigns aim to not only stop transmission of polio in north-eastern Nigeria but protect its neighbours against the spread of the virus.”
Japan remains one of the champion donors to the GPEI and the Global Health agenda in general, with contributions to polio eradication through UNICEF since 2002 totalling more than $333 million. This funding and the leadership provided by both the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) loan initiative for polio eradication has proven instrumental in the historic reduction of wild poliovirus transmission globally, with the world now on the brink of eradicating only the second human disease – after smallpox - in history.
In 2016, wild poliovirus transmission was limited to just 37 cases globally in the three remaining polio-endemic countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This year, to date, only two cases have been recorded worldwide, in Afghanistan. However, while the opportunity to finally eradicate polio is real, the risk remains – as long as one child is infected, every child remains at risk. It is critical that all countries continue to maintain high immunity to polio until the virus is eradicated, once and for all.