WHO urges Nigeria, others to ensure uninterrupted routine immunisation
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised Nigerian and other African countries to ensure uninterrupted provision of routine immunisation services, even during a period of crisis, as part of essential health service delivery.
The global health body suggests that, to protect communities from vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks during this time, African countries must maintain routine immunisation services, using innovative approaches and with strong infection prevention control practices in health facilities.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who gave the advice in a massage to mark African Vaccination Week in unison with World Immunisation Week, yesterday, said when COVID-19 transmission is contained, scaling-up supplementary immunisation “will be a priority to ensure we reach communities in need, particularly those most at risk.”
She observed that more than 30 million African children under the age of five fall ill and 500 000 die, due to vaccine-preventable diseases yearly, which accounts for 58 percent of global deaths from these diseases.
Moeti stressed the need to increase investment in vaccine research and development, adding that through the African Vaccines Regulatory Forum (AVAREF), safe and effective vaccines are reaching communities faster.
She said: “It took only 90 days for Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Guinea and Zambia to license the Merck Ebola vaccine after WHO prequalification in November 2019. African countries should engage in clinical trials that meet international standards, so that the resulting products are adapted to meet regional needs. Through technology transfer, vaccine production in African countries should increase, to reduce the continent’s reliance on importing these essential products…
“This year’s theme is “Vaccines work for all,” celebrating people who develop, deliver and receive vaccines as heroes, contributing to protecting everyone, everywhere. Never has this been clearer than in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”