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FG, US CDC Partner to Reach 2.3m Unvaccinated Children

As part of efforts to reduce vaccine-preventable diseases in the country, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Nigeria has pledged to support the Federal Government to reach children who have not received a single dose of any vaccine in the routine national immunisation schedule.

The US CDC Nigeria made the promise on Wednesday at a media roundtable in Abuja.

Zero-dose children are those who have not received the first dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vaccine.

The US CDC revealed that more than 10 million children are estimated to be zero-dose children globally, 58 per cent of which live in just 10 countries, including Nigeria.

The Senior Immunisation Specialist, Global Immunisation Division, Global Health Centre, US CDC, Dr Hadley Ikwe, noted that the centre has been supporting the Federal Government to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.

He said the vaccine saves lives and is one of the most impactful interventions in preventing illnesses and deaths in the history of public health.

“Four African countries make up 4.4 million zero-dose children. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the large global increases in zero-dose children,” Ikwe added.

The senior immunisation specialist, who is a public health expert, noted that the 10 countries contributing to 58 per cent of the global zero-dose burden are Nigeria (2.3m); Ethiopia (1.1m); India (1.1m); Democratic Republic of the Congo (753,000); Philippines (637,000); Angola (614,000); Indonesia (571,000); Brazil (431,000); Pakistan (431,000), and Mozambique (377,000).

Ikwe said, “With 2.3 million zero-dose children, Nigeria accounts for the highest burden globally. Only about 57 per cent of eligible children in Nigeria were fully vaccinated as of 2021.

“Zero-dose children are susceptible to many diseases. The introduction and spread of diseases within a community can cause epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases.”

According to the experts, zero-dose children are mostly in regions where there are gaps in vaccine access.

He, however, said Nigeria’s vaccination programme has identified 100 priority high-burden local government areas to target zero-dose reduction efforts and strengthen Primary Healthcare Centres.

“CDC is directly supporting the government in selecting geographies through intensified investments in immunisation second tier between 2023 and 2028 to target high-burden zero-dose LGAs in second tier LGAs in Niger and Zamfara states, particularly in security-compromised areas, and hard-to-reach and missed communities; use innovative integrated strategies including better microplanning, and build capacity and workforce development,” he added.

The Programme Director, US CDC Nigeria, Dr Patricia Tanifum said many children missed out on immunisation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are supporting the government to reach the zero-dose children. The country has been working to reach these children, but we still have a long way to go. So, the U.S CDC is contributing very strongly towards reaching these children,” Tanifum stated.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Sydani Group, Sidney Sampson, said the group is committed to supporting the CDC in reaching zero-dose children in the country.

“This is about the Nigerian child and all of us at some points were children. When we say reaching Zero-dose children, we mean those children that have never been reached. This means those who have not benefitted from immunisation interventions from the government and other non-governmental organisations working in the area.

“We are happy to be partners and to support the effort the U.S CDC has been putting in to ensure every child is reached with required doses,” Sampson added.

SOURCE: HealthWise