BY DAVID ADUGE-ANI
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has expressed worry on the low rate of routine immunization, especially with large number of unimmunized children, high drop outs and the low immunity across the country.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting on routine immunization (RI) in Abuja at the weekend, acting secretary, FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat (FCT-HHSS), Mrs. Alice Odey-Achu noted that the 2016 survey has reported an average national penta3 cumulative coverage of 33%, with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) scoring 66%.
Odey-Achu frowned that no state in the country has achieved the minimum coverage rate of 85%, just as she stressed the need for health care providers in the country to review and evaluate the existing structures and strategies.
She pointed out that a recent audit on vaccine utilization and accountability in the FCT has indicated irregularities and gaps such as high cost of routine immunization vaccines, poor storage and accountability, capable of compromising vaccine safety and potency.
The acting secretary noted that out of the 138 health facilities offering routine immunization in Abuja municipal Area Council (AMAC) alone, 75 of such facilities are private, which according to her, underscores the need to get it right with the private health facilities.
Earlier in his welcome address, acting executive secretary, FCT Primary Health Care Board (FCT-PHCB), Dr. Matthew Ashikeni had explained that the objectives of the meeting was to ensure that routine immunization activities are carried out in the FCT in conformity with nationally acceptable standard.
Ashikeni added that the meeting would also look at those gaps that exist in vaccine management and accountability, as well as discuss the alleged high cost of vaccines, especially in private health facilities in the FCT.
He reminded the health providers that any child denied of immunization is denied of his/her human rights of existence, adding that effort should be made in making sure that Nigerian children get the best.
He continued: “We are looking at routine immunization as a public health strategy and also an indication of our commitment in improving the health of our children. The basic reasons why we are here is to ensure that quality in routine immunization is maintained and sustained.
As you all know immunization services are very keys for child survival. The onus is on us as health workers and health professionals, caring for women and children to put in a little more efforts so that the goals of the federal government are actualized.”