Of course, Bill Gates was actually a bit more diplomatic. But even the Nigerian press could not really come up with any very encouraging quotes beyond Bill pointing out, “that the Nigerian government’s commitment to ensuring that increased resources.” He’s right to hold back on his praise: Nigeria’s extraordinarily low level of public spending on health meant that it was always going to find eradication tough.
The challenge has been made much harder by the upswing in sectarian terrorism across much of the North — the exact areas in which polio immunisation is so low and in which routine immunisation is also worryingly poor. Nigeria is one of the three countries in which polio is still endemic (Afghanistan and Pakistan are the other two).
Nigeria’s reforming Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammed Pate “voluntarily resigned” (as the Nigerian press put it) in July to teach at Duke University and consult with the Gates Foundation. Since then, our interviews have told us that there has been uncertainty about a number of key reforms.
The “wishing it were India” link may have been accidental but this did not stop the Indian Express selectively quoting Bill’s Wall Street Journal article where he describes India’s eradication of polio as, the “most impressive global health success” he has ever seen. Until this eradication Bill said that he had, “missed [India’s] hidden strength the rich, the powerful and the poor working together toward a common goal.” Bill delicately points to the half a million vaccine-preventable child deaths (330,000 are due to rotavirus diarrhoeal disease; 140,000 are due to pneumococcal disease; 71,000 are due to Hib disease) by adding, “now that they have found India’s children, they can bring them and their families other vaccines, clean water, education, advice on maternal and child health, and support for agriculture all the things that people need to live healthy and productive lives,” he said. That is, obviously, at the bottom of the IE story.