‘Release N60bn Appropriated Immunisation Fund’, Stakeholders Beg AGF

The Chief Executive Officer, Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Mrs Chika Offor has appealed to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein to swiftly approve the release of the cash-planned 60 billion naira Immunisation Fund before December 31, 2023.

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Offor made the appeal on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at a Press Conference on Nigeria’s Immunisation Financing and Efforts in Navigating Financial Challenges held in Abuja.

She said Nigeria was yet to release any substantial funds from the appropriated immunisation budget for the current year (2023), leaving the nation vulnerable to the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, and polio.

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“Currently, there is an epidemic of vaccine-preventable diseases in Nigeria such as diphtheria, measles, yellow fever, etc.

“Despite the global emphasis on vaccination as a vital public health tool, the delay in releasing funds earmarked for immunization programs raises serious questions about the government’s commitment to safeguarding the health of its population.

“The poor and vulnerable, including children and the elderly, are particularly at risk of suffering the severe consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases. The absence of timely release of immunization funds jeopardizes the progress made in controlling infectious diseases and poses a direct threat to the health and well-being of those who are most in need”, she lamented.

Speaking on why timely action was needed, Mrs Offor stated, “if these funds are not released by 31st December 2023, the funds will expire and cannot be used subsequently for procurement of vaccines and devices. There is a possibility of a shortage of vaccines in Nigeria leading to a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases which would be a blow to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s RENEWED HOPE AGENDA!”

She therefore, implored the Accountant General to consider the urgency of the matter and kindly grant approval to release the allocated funds, adding that with her support, Nigeria could fortify her commitment to public health and continue the progress made in safeguarding the nation against preventable diseases.

“Noteworthy is the total amount that has been appropriated, cash-planned, and not released is about N60 billion. The approval for the introduction of the Malaria vaccine in 2024 is a commendable stride towards bolstering preventive healthcare.

“However, the necessity for substantial budgetary allocations for immunization is underscored. Failure to secure these funds could impede the implementation of these crucial vaccination programs, limiting the potential positive impact on the populace”, she said.

On her part, Executive Director, GEM Hub Initiative, Mrs Oyeyemi Pitan while speaking on the need for the country to double its efforts in immunization financing stated that Gavi ( the international vaccine body that had been assisting Nigeria with financing of vaccine procurement) planned to leave the country in the next five years. “We are lagging in our counterpart funding responsibility now, how will we cope when they leave?”, She asked.

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