December 21, 2017
An oral polio vaccination is administered
On December 20, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) effectuated a loan conversion to transfer loan obligations to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (hereinafter referred to as the “Gates Foundation”) on the basis of a financing agreement (Assumption Agreement) for supporting the eradication of polio in Nigeria signed with the Gates Foundation in September 2014. The loan conversion was effectuated with completion of the use of official development assistance (ODA) loan funds in a polio campaign in October of this year and confirmation that the project targets for vaccination coverage that had been set in advance were achieved. As the loan conversion has been effectuated, the Gates Foundation will repay, in lieu of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the loan obligations of the Polio Eradication Project (loan limit: 8.285 billion yen), a Japanese ODA loan project funded with a loan agreement signed between JICA and Nigeria in May 2014.
An infectious disease occurring primarily in infants, the infection of polio can result in lifelong paralysis in the arms or legs. Because polio can be prevented through vaccination, Japan and other members of the international community are focusing efforts on eliminating polio as the next eradicable infectious disease after smallpox. Through these efforts, the polio virus is now endemic in only three countries—Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan—as of December 2017. With the funds for procuring polio vaccines provided by the Polio Eradication Project, approximately 460 million doses were procured to vaccinate children under the age of five throughout Nigeria from 2015 to 2017.
Administering vaccinations has become difficult in Nigeria, particularly in the northeast, due to deterioration in security caused by activities of Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group, since around 2010, resulting in an increase in polio infections from 21 in 2010 to 122 in 2012. However, the number has since decreased, dropping to 53 in 2013, six in 2014 and zero in 2015. In the two years of the project from July 2014 until July 2016, no new cases of polio were confirmed.
Although there were four infections in 2016, no new infections have been confirmed in 2017. Funds from the Polio Eradication Project were used in an emergency vaccination campaign against a polio recurrence in 2016, supporting measures to eradicate polio in the final stage.
In addition to this project, JICA dispatched an expert in health sector support to Nigeria in 2015, and has provided advice, such as strategies to improve polio and other routine immunizations, to the Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Ministry of Health. Through the Technical Training for Maintenance of Laboratory Equipment since 2015, JICA has also provided laboratory equipment to two national polio laboratories in Nigeria and implemented training for maintaining that equipment and using it for testing and diagnosis. On the human resource development front, JICA provides training to polio researchers and others each year in Japan as part of comprehensive support toward the eradication of polio in Nigeria.