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Vitamin A Scarcity Threatens Immunisation Coverage




Despite the importance of Vitamin A to infant growth and development, most primary healthcare centres in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) do not have the supplement in stock.

Checks by LEADERSHIP Weekend at some of the primary healthcare centres revealed that eligible babies could not, at the instance of routine immunisation, have the supplement.

In the health centres our correspondent visited, including the Bwari, Dutse Primary Healthcare Centres, Wuse Zone 3 Health Centre, Garki Specialist Hospital and Area 2 Family Clinic, it was learnt that the children will have to wait for a stipulated period for government intervention programmes.

Vitamin A, a fat-soluble supplement which is very vital to a child’s immune system, sight development and proper functionality of the white blood cells, is only made available to children twice in a year and regrettably just five days in every six months.

While Nigeria continues to contribute immensely to infant mortality in the world, Vitamin A deficiency is one of the causes of a weak immune, including increased risk of contraction and death as a result of diseases such as measles and diarrhea in children in the country.

Mr and Mrs Ambrose have a baby who is one of the many children who missed out on the Vitamin A supplement during the one-week immunisation programme conducted in June 2017.

The baby was only eligible to take the Vitamin A, in July, a month after the supplement week. “We have visited at least two hospitals to get the supplement but the nurses on duty said they are out of stock. They said we should return after six months or visit a private hospital to get the supplement if we cannot wait”, the couple told LEADERSHIP Weekend.

Another parent, Blessing Oche told our reporter that her baby will be exactly nine months by the time the intervention programme gets to the second week.

But speaking in an interview with our reporter, the Executive Secretary of FCT Primary Health Care Board, Dr Mathew Ashikeni, said the vitamin is not readily stocked at the primary health centres is due to mismanagement and lack of accountability on the part of the health workers in charge.

He added that the concept of the twice-in-a-year maternal and new-born week which takes place every six months in a year is borne out of the fact that babies are only eligible after six months, after which they are given the supplement in another six months.

He also said that in the sixth month, a maternal and new-born health week is being created to ensure that children and their mothers are being attended to simultaneously.

Ochoga, Benin