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The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Federal Government plan to immunise 930,000 annually.

WHO, FG Partner To Immunise 930,000 Children

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is partnering with the Federal Government to immunise 930,000 children every year to improve the rate of routine immunisation in the country.

WHO Team Lead, Vaccine Preventable Diseases, and Polio Eradication, Dr. Kofi Boateng, said this at an engagement programme organised by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) with other development partners on optimised outreach in Abuja.

He also noted that the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an estimated 33 million African children not being immunised from 2019 to 2021.

“The fact that these children had not received any vaccine is the reason why we are seeing a lot of outbreaks like measles, diphtheria, yellow fever, and so on. As part of the preparation for the African vaccination week celebration, which is riding on the theme, ‘the big catch up’, this meeting is to support Nigeria to prepare to catch up with about 6.2 million Nigerian children that did not receive any vaccine from 2019 to 2021 in Nigeria,” he said.

Dr. Boateng added that the FG and other development partners are reviewing strategies that the states were going to adopt to make sure that all health facilities complement the outreach’s efforts to catch up on unimmunised children.

However, he revealed that the most effective strategy realised was the need to vaccinate and immunise people through fixed sessions, outreach sessions, and mobile sessions for a specific group of populations based on their proximity to the health facility. The engagement programme was organised for representatives from the Federal Capital Territory and the 36 states in the country.

“What we have noticed in Nigeria for the outreach sessions that are supposed to go to the communities, we are not seeing the number of yield in terms of the number of children vaccinated over a longer period.

Read Also: Africa Must Vaccinate 33m Children to Meet Global Immunisation Target — WHO

“We are discussing the issue of partners supporting the state in terms of resourcing, engaging the state authorities to make sure the funds are released to support this plan. In the WHO, we have a presence in all 36 states and we also have staff in almost every ward that is supporting polio eradication and other PHC services. So we will leverage that to support the government to make sure all plans at those levels are of high quality.

“WHO supports strategic policy, we also monitor what is happening. We have teams in the fields that would be supporting the state in terms of coordination, planning, and implementation.

“In terms of implementation, we are going to participate in the training of health workers. We are going to monitor the progress of the process. We’re also going to assess the quality of services as a result of the outreach in terms of data on the actual number of children that are going to be vaccinated.

“We are hoping that at the end, we as partners have agreed with the government that every year we will reduce the burden of zero doses by 15 percent. We hope that by the end of this, we will reduce the dose by that percentage,” Dr. Boateng said.

On his part, the Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, disclosed that plans for special logistics had been made to routinely immunise areas that are hard to reach.

He noted that there is a need for a paradigm shift, for parents to make their children available to receive vaccines and for healthcare workers to optimise every available opportunity to reach children, most especially in hard-to-reach communities.

Also, the Director of Disease Control and Immunization (NPHCDA), Dr. Bassey Okposen, noted that most states were not conducting outreaches as expected.

“We, therefore, drew up optimised strategies on how to make the outreaches better and share with them the optimised outreach strategy approach so they can do better. We are also using the opportunity to talk to the states about the HPV vaccine.”