The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said access of children in Nigeria northeast states to immunization and other health services was a fundamental human right.
UNICEF Chief of Field Office Maiduguri, Borno State, Phuong Nguyen
said this in a statement from the office made available to newsmen on Thursday.
Nguyen said an upsurge in conflict in the in the northeast was leading to forced displacement which could further expose children to malnutrition and inability to access routine immunization services.
“Data from the World Health Organisation shows that as a result of access constraints, 14 million infants did not receive their first dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis in 2019. Another 5.7 million infants were only partially immunized,” she said.
She described the development as sad. She said 60 per cent of the 19.7 million children live in 10 countries of the world including Nigeria.
While commenting on the over a decade long violence in the affected northeast states particularly Borno and Yobe, she said children remain at the receiving ends of the consequences of insecurity.
She said protecting access to immunization services for children has a direct impact on their wellbeing and national development.
“Immunization is the foundation to children’s health, and if children are immunized, they will do well in school and develop immunity against opportunistic diseases,” she stressed.
She urged all to protect children now so that they can in turn protect us their parents and guardians in their old age. She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was shrinking access to routine health services. “The escalating conflict in the north-east will erase the windows of opportunities that are still available,’’ she said.
UNICEFand other international support organisations have been collaborating with the governments of the states affected by insurgency since the escalation of the violence in 2015.