The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that despite tremendous progress made in the reduction of child mortality rate in Nigeria, about 4.3 million children still miss out on vaccinations every year.
The representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Mr. Mohamed Malick Fall, in a statement yesterday said the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17 shows that only one in four children in the country receive all the recommended vaccines.
But Fall said immunisation coverage for pentavalent vaccine between the 36 states varies dramatically from 80 per cent in Lagos to three per cent in Sokoto and is still below the recommended global goal of 90 per cent in all of them.
According to him, children who have never been vaccinated are at the greatest risk of contracting diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and tetanus, which may be fatal or lead to long-term debilitating effects on survivors.
He said that poverty, overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation as well as insufficient nutrition and healthcare increases the risk of diseases such as pneumonia and measles; diseases that are easily preventable with vaccines.
“Nigeria has made great strides in reducing deaths of under 5-year-old children from 158 to 120 per 1,000 births between 2011 and 2016. Yet, during the same period, the coverage of the main vaccines offered through routine immunisation has declined.
“All girls and boys, no matter where they live or what their situations are, have the right to survive and thrive, safe from deadly diseases.”
“Vaccination acts as a shield, keeping families and communities safe. By vaccinating children, we are protecting the most vulnerable members of the communities.”
Fall stressed that millions of lives can be saved by extending basic health services, like routine immunisation to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
In Nigeria, he said, the government has developed an ambitious 10-year national immunisation and primary health care systems strengthening plan that aims to reverse the current negative trends.
“Immunisation is one of the most powerful and most cost-effective health interventions,” said Fall.
He assured that “UNICEF and its partners continue to stand firm with the government to ensure that the lives of children are protected.”