The Nigerian government has approved a US$ 150million loan from the World Bank to go towards the fight against polio and to scale up immunization, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said on Wednesday.
Nigeria is one of only three countries worldwide where polio still exists, having recorded a case in 2016. The other countries are Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Following a global effort to eradicate polio, there were just 22 cases last year, down from 350,000 thirty years ago, according to the World Health Organization. Before the disease is fully eradicated however, there is still a risk that it could return, putting children’s lives at risk.
Nigeria has recorded no new cases in 21 months and could be certified polio free by July 2019 if none are found.
The World Bank’s 20-year loan comes with a 1.25 percent interest rate and no payments are due for five years. The funds would be applied in 12 states, mostly in the northern part of Nigeria, some of which have been hit by Boko Haram insurgency.
Adeosun said the World Bank loan would help the government achieve and sustain at least 80 percent oral polio vaccine coverage in every state in Nigeria and improve immunization as part of a global polio eradication effort.