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WHO, UNICEF list Nigeria among countries with poor children’s immunisation

By Rauf Oyewole, Bauchi
16 July 2022   |   4:05 am
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) have said that 25 million children globally missed one or two doses of vaccines to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) have said that 25 million children globally missed one or two doses of vaccines to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3).

Both agencies, in a joint statement released, yesterday, by the UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell, said the sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years was recorded in official data published by WHO and UNICEF.

She said the percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3), a marker for immunisation coverage within and across countries, fell five percentage points between 2019 and 2021 to 81 per cent.

“As a result, 25 million children missed out on one or more doses of DTP through routine immunisation services in 2021 alone. This is two million more than those who missed out in 2020 and six million more than in 2019, highlighting the growing number of children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases.

“The decline was due to many factors including an increased number of children living in conflict and fragile settings where immunisation access is often challenging, increased misinformation and COVID-19 related issues such as service and supply chain disruptions, resource diversion to response efforts, and containment measures that limited immunisation service access and availability.

“This is a red alert for child health. We are witnessing the largest sustained drop in childhood immunisation in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lives,” she said.

She said that while a pandemic hangover was expected last year as a result of COVID-19 disruptions and lockdowns, what is happening now is a continued decline. COVID-19 is not an excuse. She demanded immunisation catch-ups for the missing millions or there would be inevitable more outbreaks, more sick children and greater pressure on already strained health systems.

She added that “18 million of the 25 million children did not receive a single dose of DTP during the year, the vast majority of whom live in low- and middle-income countries, with India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines recording the highest numbers. Among countries with the largest relative increases in the number of children who did not receive a single vaccine between 2019 and 2021 are Myanmar and Mozambique.”

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