Federal government has said that about 50,000 deaths occur in children under five years in Nigeria as a result of rotavirus infection, saying vaccination against the virus will avert these deaths.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhoea in children and Nigeria has the second highest number of deaths from the virus, accounting for 14 per cent of all childhood deaths globally.
At the official flag-off of rotavirus vaccine introduction into routine immunisation, the minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, noted that the initiative was of great importance, saying it is expected to directly avert over 110,000 deaths in under five in the next 10 years.
The minister, who was represented by the ministry’s director of public health, Dr. Alex Okoh, urged parents and caregivers to leverage on the privilege by ensuring that their children are vaccinated against all vaccine preventable diseases.
The executive director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the introduction of rotavirus vaccine is a big investment due to its substantial economic impact and number of lives that the country is going to save from the introduction.
“It is projected that while reducing the associated morbidity and mortality from the rotavirus infections, the rotavirus vaccine introduction has the potential to avert over 110,000 deaths over a 10-year period,” he said.
Shuaib explained that the vaccine is going to be given orally and will be administered concurrently with the existing Routine Immunization (RI) vaccines at six weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks respectively.
He said “The vaccine will be integrated with other diarrheal preventive strategies, such as exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life, Vitamin A supplementation, handwashing, sanitation, and other key household practices.
“Case management including the use of zinc- ORS to prevent dehydration, continued feeding, and treatment services for diarrhea and other childhood diseases.”