By Sule ALIYU, Bauchi
UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Mohamed Malick Fall has solicited the support of traditional institutions in Bauchi state in the areas of polio eradication and routine immunization towards the well-being of children in the state.
Mr. Fall, who made the plea when he paid homage to the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, explained that without the active support of traditional and religious leaders, polio eradication in the country would not be possible.
“We all know that before we get the mobilization of traditional and religious leaders, Nigeria was an extremely big concern for the humanity”, Mr. Fall said.
The UNICEF Country representative also alerted the traditional institution of other problems facing children which are severe acute malnutrition and low coverage of routine immunization.
“Until recently based on most recent data, only one child out of five reach the third coverage of vaccination which is extremely low by international standard”.
He regretted that Nigeria is lagging behind with many polio cases, saying “If not for the conflict in Borno state where fresh cases were recorded due to inaccessibility to many communities, Nigeria would have been declared polio free by now”.
Mr. Mohamed Fall explained that it is only when the traditional institution decided to mobilize; reach out to the communities, engaging the communities in desirable behavior that good results could be obtained.
Fall; maintain that if Nigeria succeeds in polio eradication, routine immunization, fighting malnutrition and promoting girl child education, much country would follow.
According to him, Nigeria is very strategic in Africa in the recent projection which showed that the country will be the third populated in the World in three decades to come.
“In three decades, one child out of ten will be Nigerian, one child out of three in Sub-Saharan Africa will be Nigerian, and black person out of four will be Nigerian. A Country like that should set the tone, should serve as blueprint, and should set a standard for the rest of the World to follow”.
Fall, while acknowledging that Bauchi state was making progress in the areas of education, child protection, and sanitation hygiene, assured that staff UNICEF Bauchi Field Office is at the disposal of the emir whenever he needs their technical services on any issue related to children.
The Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu has while responding told the UNICEF chief that the emirate had four structures at ward, village, district and emirate levels on polio and routine immunization to promote the good health of children.
Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu realized that without children coming out healthy, they will not contribute to the socio-economic development of the country, citing example with the need for the recruitment of healthy youth into military and para-military to buttress his claim.
He said, “If there is polio going all over the place, then this domain will not be represented adequately, hence the need for healthy people to whom we are doing a lot, especially in immunization and polio eradication”, he added.