Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has confirmed that Nigeria has the highest number of unimmunised children in Africa.
It said over 4.2 million (51 percent) unimmunised children in Africa are found in northern Nigeria, with a fear that such development could posed a huge threat to the health of other children with proper and adequate immunisation.
The agency used graphic and pictorial illustrations to highlight the precarious immunisation situation in Nigeria, at a meeting of Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) on primary healthcare delivery emergency meeting, on community engagement framework in Abuja.
Its Executive Director, Dr. Shaib Faisal, in his opening remarks, attributed the development to ignorance, religious misinterpretation, fake information, fear of possible negative biological effect of the vaccines and several other factors.
He was, however, happy that NPHCDA and its global partners, through massive grassroots sensitisation and enlightenment, were able to correct the misconception, resulting in gradual improvement in immunisation records, especially in northern Nigeria.
He said: “Just like the success we recorded in the fight against polio, we were able to improve immunisation records through deep involvement of traditional rulers and other community leaders.
“Records indicated that between 2015 and few months ago, there has been over eight percent improvement in terms of reaching more children with immunisation, even though we are yet to cover as much as we ought to.”
He, thus, solicited similar support in educating the local communities on the need to open their arms to several immunisation exercises in their local communities, for improved health of the people.
He asked the traditional rulers to take advantage of the huge influence and loyalty they command from community members to educate and sensitise them on the health need of immunisation.