The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says there are over 600,000 children in three Nigerian Northwest states – Kano, Jigawa, and Katsina- that are yet to be vaccinated against childhood killer diseases.
UNICEF said the poor vaccine intake put the children at risk of killer diseases and even death.
The head of UNICEF’s field office in Kano, Rahama Farah, said this at a zonal media dialogue on routine immunisation and zero dose campaign on Wednesday in Kano.
“Immunisation is the single, most cost-effective, and high-impact intervention which protects children against illness and death caused by vaccine-preventable diseases. Yet, despite the proven safety, efficacy, and availability of vaccines, Immunization uptake has not always been optimal,” Mr Farah said.
He attributed the poor vaccine uptake in the states to disinformation, rumours, and other factors which put children at risk of diseases and death.
“Myths, disinformation, misinformation, and rumours, have contributed a great deal to poor immunisation uptake, exposing children to high risk and death that can be avoidable when they don’t get immunised.
“The National Immunisation Coverage Survey Results have shown that over the years, Nigeria has made progress in Immunisation coverage; however, it is also clear that gaps exist,” Mr Farah said.
“For instance, in the three states of the Northwest of Nigeria: Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, there are over 600,000 children who have not been vaccinated against childhood killer diseases, Mr Farah said.
Mr Farah said the number of unvaccinated children in the three states accounted for about 40 per cent of the total unvaccinated children in Nigeria.
He said over 50 per cent of the unvaccinated children in the three states are in Kano.
“This is closer to about 40% of the total unimmunised children in Nigeria. Over 300,000 of those children are in Kano State, representing 50 per cent of the three states under the UNICEF Kano Office. This situation is unacceptable and should be reversed urgently.
“As the UN agency mandated for the protection and promotion of children’s rights, we are highly vv concerned, when children don’t get immunised, when children have no access to immunisation services, their basic fundamental right is not fulfilled, the official said.
Mr Farah urged traditional and religious leaders, community leaders, and civil society organisations across the states to forge partnerships to eliminate the number of unimmunised children in Nigeria.
UNICEF urged the governments of the three states to ensure the provision of one functional primary healthcare per political ward to assist the population in accessing healthcare services.
“I call on the governments of Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states and other states with zero-dose LGAs, to take concerted action to strengthen their primary healthcare systems.
“To implement the Nigeria Primary Health Care Under One Roof Policy to ensure one-stop functional primary healthcare centre per ward, particularly those local government areas with unimmunised children.
“To ensure an integrated package of primary health services are provided to families in one functional health facility
“Increase strategic interventions to address the persistent gap in human resources and recruit additional skilled critical cadres of health workers, including vaccinators, Community Health Influencers and Promoters Services (CHIPS) agents for immunisation demand creation.
“Provide essential medicines and health commodities, infrastructure, electricity, and water supply for quality integrated Primary Health Care service for people,” he said.
Mr Farah reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to working with and supporting state governments to ensure children’s well-being and their rights are protected.
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