2.2m Nigerian children miss routine immunisation, says UNICEF
• 600,000 cases in Kano, Katsina, Jigawa
• Sets one million children target in 700 days
About 2.2 million children in Nigeria are presently on zero vaccination dose category, and thereby susceptible to various immunisation preventable diseases, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.
Children captured under zero dose immunisation have not received any vaccine in the routine national immunisation schedule and equally missed the Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) pentavalent vaccines, including diphtheria, pertusis, tetanus, haemophilus influenzae and hepatitis.
Of the cumulative national figure, however, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states of the North West region have 600,000 children with zero dose of vaccination.
Kano confirmed 61 deaths to diphtheria in March 2023, largely due to poor immunisation coverage, especially in the rural communities. Similarly, hundreds of lives were lost to meningitis and measles in Jigawa last year.
Addressing journalists on the state of the world children on vaccination, in Abuja, yesterday, Chief of Health, UNICEF, Nigeria, Eduardo Blanco lamented that Nigeria ranked second globally among countries with highest percentage of immunisation gap.
Blanco expressed worry that Nigeria still drags with 57 per cent immunisation coverage, far below the 90 per cent Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) goal the country already committed to fulfil.
During a zoom session at UNICEF Kano office, joined by select journalists, Blanco highlighted weak healthcare system, lack of access to quality service delivery, insecurity, especially in the North East among other factors responsible for the gap, fearing that the country might witness resurgence of immunisation preventable diseases.
Yet, the UNICEF health officer stressed that the United Nations (UN) agency was targeting one million children in 18 states for immunisation in 700 days.
The Chief of Field Officer, UNICEF Kano office, Rahama Farah, noted that Kano led two other states in the zone with 55 per cent spread across 15 local councils.
According to Farah, Jigawa recorded 26 per cent of the total impact across six local councils, while Katsina recorded 19 per cent in eight local councils.
The field officer attributed population explosion, lack of information and low investment of government in immunisation as major reasons for the wide gap.
Emphasising that immunisation against preventable diseases, as well as quality basic healthcare, remained one of the fundamental rights of a child, he urged the media to intensify advocate against poor attention to immunisation in the zone.
A health specialist at Kano UNICEF office, Abimbola Olaniyo, solicited maximum integration and engagement of religious and community leaders to correct the cultural misconception about veracity of vaccines, especially among the rural dwellers.