By Bankole Adewale
Nigeria will be polio-free in the next six months, Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has declared.
He spoke at briefing commemorating the 2019 African Vaccination Week (AVW) attended by the Country Representative for the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Clement Peter; Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) Champion for Africa on Immunization and CEO Avon Medical Limited, Dr. Awele Elumelu, and Country Coordinator for GAVI, Nadia Lasri, among others.
Shuaib said: “Because we have been innovative and creative with routine immunisations, we are now at a point where we are just some six months away from being declared polio-free in Nigeria.”
He commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Health in the effective progress made in immunisation coverage, noting the increase of routine immunization coverage rates from 48 percent in 2015 to 57 percent in 2018.
“Immunisation is critical for building a resilient health system under the visionary leadership of Buhari, and the strategic and policy direction of the honorable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole,” he stated.
“For the first time in Nigeria we are seeing a consistent and compelling improvement in the number of kids we are reaching with lifesaving vaccines. We have surpassed all historic expectations in immunisations,” he stressed.
He complained that lack of awareness and fear of vaccination of caregivers and the poor attitude of health workers weak effective immunisation.
He urged parents and caregivers of children to make available the kids for vaccination to prevent disease epidemics and early death, assuring that all vaccines used in Nigeria are WHO and NAFDAC certified.
“The measles outbreaks we have seen in the last few months underscore the need for parents to make available their kids for vaccinations every time there is a campaign,” he said.
“This is the fewest number of measles outbreak in Nigeria ever.
“We are here to celebrate AVW as we do every year, to emphasise for routine immunisation to protect kids and women from vaccine preventable diseases. We are also here to celebrate the efforts of vaccine heroes.
“We look forward to a day when no man woman or child in Nigeria will die from measles, meningitis, or any other vaccine-preventable disease again.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Dr. Mrs. Awele Elumelu, disclosed while Gavi has been able to immunise almost 300 million children in Nigeria since their inception in 2000, preventing about 10 million deaths, there remains about 9 million unimmunized children in Nigeria.
She also hampered on the importance of the private sector in enhancing healthcare coverage in the country.