Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative (GAVI), has extended its funding support for immunization in Nigeria until 2028.
The decision which followed a plea by the Nigerian government will see the body, which is the largest global coalition of the public and private sector in the health sector, commit about $1.03 billion.
Nigeria’s health minister, Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja on Monday said GAVI board approved the funding envelope and extension of transitional period from 2021 to 2028.
Nigeria and GAVI in 2001 entered into an agreement to strengthen immunization system across the country. During this period, GAVI supported the country with the introduction of life-saving vaccines, which include PCV, IPV and Pentavalent vaccines, and provided additional support for non-vaccine operations worth $732,130,326. The agreement is estimated to have saved over two million lives in Nigeria in the last 17 years.
The funding agreement was to end in 2021 but Nigeria is not yet ready to shoulder the financial burden of its immunization programme.
Two months ago, Faisal Shuaib, the Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said Nigeria needs about $2.7 billion (N824 billion) to buy vaccines over the next 10 years to enable it achieve its target of 84 per cent immunisation coverage by 2028.
He said out of about $93 million needed for immunisation in 2018, the federal government approved only $33 million, adding that Nigeria is graduating from GAVI support in the next two years, though conversations were still ongoing for extension.
Concerned about the rise in the number of unvaccinated children in Nigeria, GAVI approved an extension for the funding support.
It said no fewer than 800,000 unvaccinated children died in Nigeria in the last five years.
The investment in the new agreement is worth $2.7 billion, with GAVI committing $1.03 billion while the Nigerian Government counterpart contribution is in excess of $1.9 billion.
This new approval, the minister said, will help the country save the lives of 1,539,651 under-1 children by 2028.
“This investment, worth over $2.7 billion of which GAVI has committed $1.03 billion while the Federal Government counterpart contribution is in excess of $1.9 billion, will enable Nigeria provide vaccines for its children over the next ten years (2018-2028), making it the largest singular investment of any kind in the health sector since the history of the Primary Health Care System in Nigeria and heralds a new path to improving the health of Nigerians.
“The GAVI board approval of the funding envelope and the decision for extension of transitional period from 2021 to 2028 was a direct testament of the renewed commitment of this current administration and demonstrable leadership of Mr. President in enshrining accountability and transparency in all governments’ dealings especially with donor agencies.
“With this approval by GAVI, Nigeria stands to save the lives of additional 1,539,651 under-1 children by 2028 by driving immunization rates up to 85 percent in all states and improving the supply chain; while rebuilding financial credibility and trust, transforming the organization structure of Primary Health Care (PHC) in Nigeria, consolidating gains in polio eradication and revitalizing the Primary Health Care System. This comes at an auspicious time to complement government’s efforts to revitalize the primary health care system through the provision of the minimum package of care using the basic health care provision fund, all geared towards strengthening the PHC system in Nigeria.”
However, some experts have warned that Nigeria should start taking necessary steps towards funding its own immunization programme to avoid further leaving the lives of the country’s children at the mercy of foreign donors.
GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance is the largest global coalition of the public and private sector with the shared goal of accelerating equal access to new and underutilized vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.