- Category: News and Events
- Published on 18 February 2016
On Thursday, February 11, 2016, Sir Emeka Offor, the founder of Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF), made a courtesy call to the office of the Honorable Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Folorunsho Adewole to commend him for his efforts in motion to stem the spread of Lassa Fever in the country.
In his introduction, Sir Emeka said, “we are profoundly appreciative of your timeous response to the health crisis that beset our nation and we are confident that your oversight will properly guide us through this period, and Lassa fever will be wiped out just as we defeated Ebola.”
Sir Emeka was accompanied by the former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Idi Hong, Country Representative for The Carter Center, Dr. Emmanuel Miri, Alhaji Kaula Aliu, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. Howard Jeter (Rtd), Head Communications for Chrome Group, Dr. Edwin Ndukwe.
The founder of SEOF, who is also the Rotary International Polio Ambassador, used the opportunity to intimate the Hon Minister of his continuing role on the road to a polio-free Nigeria and his commitment to the ongoing partnership with The Carter Center for the elimination of River Blindness by the year 2020.
Nigeria, as you may recall, has been delisted from the pack of polio-endemic nations since August of 2015, and now, awaits World Health Organization’s Certification, as being polio-free, which is anticipated by 2017.
The road to success recorded in the END POLIO campaign over the years was not an easy one, but nevertheless remarkable considering the episodal challenges of both culture and religion in creating access to immunization. By far, a cohesive Public-Private Partnership and the generous contributions from patriotic Nigerians like Sir Emeka Offor was in part contributory to the appreciated outcome.
On the fight against River Blindness (RB), Dr. Emmanuel Miri explained the scope of the ongoing partnership between The Carter Center and SEOF. In his presentation, Dr. Miri expressed optimism in Sir Emeka's financial commitment of ($10 million over a seven-year span) towards a complete elimination of the disease. He acknowledged that this was unprecedented and by far the largest grant from a single African donor in Carter Center’s history and that the funding would go towards Carter Center interventions against RB in the designated seven states within the South-East and South-South of the country. He prayed the Hon Minister to fast-track the adoption of a two-dose per year model for RB elimination instead of the current one dose per year. Implementing the two dose per year would shorten the treatment duration from 15 years to 7 years, according to Dr. Miri.
The Carter Center has been at the forefront of efforts, in collaboration with the Nigerian government, to rid our society of RB and other Neglected Tropical Diseases since 1988. The Center had a similar focus that led to the elimination of Guinea Worm from Nigeria. The impetus for guinea worm defeat inspired the campaign to see that the burden of RB (40% global disease burden) is erased from the country.
Prof Adewole while receiving Sir Emeka Offor expressed profound gratitude for the latter's contribution to ensuring that all Nigerian children are immunized with the polio vaccine. He commended Sir Emeka for being an exemplary Nigeria. According to the Hon Minister, Nigerians who are making significant contributions to the growth and welfare of the society should be celebrated. He expressed the government's determination to collaborate with well-meaning non-governmental agencies, like SEOF, to bring about the "change" aspirations of the new administration in the health sector.
Ambassador Howard Jeter, who gave the Hon Minister a broader scope of the Foundations's work in and around the continent, also used the opportunity to present, as a gift, a set of books written by former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, to the Hon. Minister. President Carter personally autographed the books for the Minister.