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Nigeria has highest under-immunised children

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POLIO IMMUNISATION

Nigeria has the highest number of under-immunised children in the world with about 4.5 million kids and is also home to the deepest inequities in immunisation, with three per cent coverage in Sokoto and 80 per cent in Lagos.

Chairman, Expert Review Committee (ERC) on Polio and Routine Immunisation, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, in paper made available to The Guardian to mark the African Vaccination Week (AVW), April 23-29, said it costs about N17,000 to fully vaccinate a Nigerian child with all the vaccines the country currently administers. He said this means that 30,236,960 Nigerian children can be fully vaccinated with the money stolen and recovered in 2017 alone.

Tomori, a virologist and consultant to the World Health Organisation (WHO), said the current situation in Nigeria tells much about the state of the nation and why there is need for champions to reverse the trend.

He said several factors are responsible for Nigeria’s inability to protect her citizens from incessant outbreaks of controllable and often preventable diseases.

These factors, he said, include an unreliable and ineffective healthcare delivery system, a national government that provides insufficient funding to take care of the health problems of the nation, and a citizenry that pays scant attention to her health and powerless to hold her government accountable.

In another development, ahead of Workers’ Day, May 1, the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) has called for accelerated implementation of the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) workplace policy and anti-discrimination law in Nigeria.

Director-General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, told journalists: “People living with HIV/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) have a fundamental right to work just like everybody else – stigma and discrimination is a potent threat to this right and undermines opportunities for people to obtain decent employment.

“As we celebrate international workers’ day, we urge all the employers and employees of labour to join in the popularisation of the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act and the implementation of its supporting instruments, including the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS and the National HIV/AIDS Stigma Reduction Strategy.”

Aliyu, who stated that the HIV response in Nigeria is encumbered with cases of employment-related stigma and discrimination, which continue to constitute a major threat to the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, said the unequal treatment of workers based on their HIV status in the workplace is a clear breach of their right to gainful employment.

Aliyu said as part of the long-term goal of eliminating stigma and discrimination in the workplace, NACA continues to collaborate with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and other partners to ensure that employers of labour are aware of and comply with the provisions of the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS (2013) and the National HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act (2014).

He said the continuous engagement of relevant stakeholders has led to strengthened capacity for compliance and effective implementation of HIV workplace policies.


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