As Nigeria joins other African countries to commemorate Vaccination Week on the continent, the federal government has expressed confidence that the country, in the next one year, would be able to vaccinate the 4.3 million children that have not been vaccinated in last few years.
The executive secretary/chief executive officer, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, stated this at a meeting on immunisation financing, as part of activities to mark the African Vaccination Week (AVW) with the theme, “Vaccines Work, Do Your Part,” held in Abuja.
Expressing concern over the low coverage figures credited to the country, Shuaib said the 4.3 million unreached children revealed in a 2016 survey highlighted the need for emergency immunisation centres across the country.
This measure, he said, was carried out by the agency to ensure that there was a rapid catch-up on children that were not captured in the last two to three years.
“The survey indicated that some 4.3 million children have not been vaccinated in Nigeria. This is the largest number of children that we have not been immunised anywhere in the world.
“From the initial response we were getting from the preparatory stage, we were very confident that when we roll out the strategy and optimise integrated routine immunisation, we will be able to reach the 4.3 million children that were targeted.
“We are equally confident that within the first one year, we will be able to reach these 4.3 million children that we have not been able to vaccinate over the last few years,” Shuaib said.
The NPHCDA boss further stated that the agency had rolled out a roadmap that would involve the pooling of domestic resources to procure vaccines because in the next two years, the country would be graduating from GAVI support even though there are conversations around the possibility of flexibility of the graduation.
According to him, in the next 10 years, the country is hopeful that the plan laid out in her strategic document will clearly articulate how the resources will be put together to ensure equitable coverage across the country with life saving vaccines and other services.
“We have set a motion and implementation plan that starts next week. It will ensure that the right vaccines are available, there are human resources available at the tight time and there is community mobilisation that ensure that in the field section, in the outreach section, we are working with traditional, religious institutions,” said Shuaib.
LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that the African Vaccination Week is an initiative of governments in the African region that was stated in 2010. The event is celebrated annually during the last week of April.
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