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Routine immunisation rate drops

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*Vaccinating under-five children is panacea to long life as Ondo, Taraba set to improve programme

There is a significant drop in the coverage of the main vaccines offered through routine immunisation in Nigeria as recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17 shows that only one in four children in the country receive all the recommended vaccines.

To this end, about 4.3 million children in Nigeria still miss out on vaccinations every year.In a statement yesterday in Abuja, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Malick Fall, said Immunisation is one of the most powerful and most cost-effective health interventions adding that “UNICEF and its partners continues to stand firm with the Government to ensure that the lives of children are protected.”

Fall noted that immunisation coverage for pentavalent vaccine between the 36 states varies dramatically from 80 per cent in Lagos to three per cent in Sokoto and is still below the recommended global goal of 90 per cent in all of them.He stated that vaccine protects children against diphtheria (sore throat and fever with a potential for complications), whooping cough, tetanus, haemophilus influenza type B (bacteria causing several types of infections) and hepatitis B (inflammatory disease of the liver).

He observed that children who have never been vaccinated are at the greatest risk of contracting diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and tetanus, which may be fatal or lead to long-term debilitating effects on survivors.Fall stated that poverty, overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation as well as insufficient nutrition and healthcare increases the risk of diseases such as pneumonia and measles; diseases that are easily preventable with vaccines.

He said, “All girls and boys, no matter where they live or what their situations are, have the right to survive and thrive, safe from deadly diseases. “Vaccination acts as a shield, keeping families and communities safe. By vaccinating children, we are protecting the most vulnerable members of the communities.”

According to him, extending basic health services, like routine immunization, to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, can save millions of lives. In Nigeria, the Federal Government has developed an ambitious 10-year National Immunisation and Primary Health Care Systems Strengthening Plan that aims to reverse the current negative trends.

Also, the Taraba State Commissioner for Health, Innocent Vakkai, has said that immunizing children under the age of five would go a long to prevent them from dying from preventable diseases. The commissioner who made this known Monday in Jalingo during the Africa Vaccination Week which was well attended by experts from various health sector across the state, admonished parents to always make available their eligible children for all Immunizations.

Stressing that the state government under the leadership of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, had paid all it counterparts funding on Immunizations, said the government is working round the clock to achieve the 80 per cent target of polio immunization coverage.Also, Ondo State government has kicked over routine immunization for over 350,000 children across the 18 local government areas of the state, iterating its commitment to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity to the barest minimum.

The Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Wahab Adegbenro, said this on Monday during a press conference in Akure to commemorate the African Commemoration Week, themed: “Vaccines work, be an immunization champion.”Adegbenro disclosed that there would be 3-day special immunization outreach services, which begins today across the 33 primary health facilities in Akoko South West Local Government Area.

He noted that the outreach was taken to the council because of its sub-optimal performance in routine immunization for the months of January and February 2018 compared to other councils in the state.The Commissioner stressed that it is free in all the 583 primary health facilities across the councils, saying “that a minimum of 1 fixed session is conducted per facility per week while a minimum of four outreach sessions is conducted per facility per month.”

He listed the routine immunization schedule per newborns, six weeks of life, 10 weeks of life, 14 weeks of life and nine months of life, which is the only doses of yellow fever and measles vaccines.He added that Vitamin A supplements are administered to children, while the ministry also participated in all Supplemental Immunization Exercises (SIEs), the ongoing National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs) just to mention a few.

“Using Penta 3 Vaccine as a yardstick, a total of 14,484 children were vaccinated in Ondo State in the month of February 2018, which is about 89 per cent of the monthly target population.

“The state coverage for the recently held measles vaccination campaign is 108 per cent, making up 735,168 children vaccinated,” he said, revealing that the state has paid N17 million and N10 million counter-part fund and another N12 million for measles campaign.“As a responsible and responsive government, we shall continue to promote and support the coverage of immunization services in our dear state, thereby keeping Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPDs) away from Ondo State,” Adegbenro said.

Meanwhile, the Taraba state government has also decided to take the bull by the horn by aligning its weight behind other states and country to mark the 8th Africa Vaccination Week, in order to create “ awareness on the vaccination of children and nursing mothers so as to eliminate some common ailments associated with non vaccination.”

Identifying non compliance, difficulty in accessing communities and frequent breakdown of refrigerating system as some of the major challenges of the immunization programme in the state, the commissioner for health felt sadness that some communities and some religious sects were yet to come to terms with the significance of routine immunization exercise.

Some residents especially, those displaced by the Insurgency in the North East who are presently living as internally displaced camps in various parts, according to him were showing some elements of non-compliance in taking the vaccines.

All efforts as stated by him were being made to overcome the negative trends through extensive sensitization to raise awareness by the use of traditional rulers, opinion religious leaders and the mass Media.Also speaking the Executive Secretary of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Aminu Jauro Hassan, said the agency has begin receiving all the needed hands of friendship from the governor.

The agency, in collaboration with all the partners, which includes the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), N-STOP among others, he said would continue to go extra legitimate miles to reach out to the Hard-To-Reach Communities.On their parts, the leadership of WHO, who was represented by Bonet Samuel explained that every 23 to 29 of April is marked by WHO African Region to celebrate African Vaccination Week to raise awareness of the needs and rights of all people, particularly children and women, to protected from diseases which can be prevented by vaccines.

The awareness drive aims according to him is “to keep immunization high on national and regional agenda through advocacy and partnership, and is an opportunity for other high impact measures to improve health such as vitamin A supplementation, deworming, distribution of impregnated bed nets and others.”Stressing that “strong health systems are the foundation for all well functioning immunization programs” concrete action, as suggested by him “ are required to ensured that children and other vulnerable people are protected from death and diseases which can be prevented through vaccination.”


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