By Haruna Gimba
Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR) and Health Track, a CSOs Accountability Coalition, have commended the effort of the Federal Ministry of Health for the transparency and an improved quality data on Immunization estimates nationwide.
The nationwide data was reported in the recently released 2016 WHO/UNICEF estimates of national immunization coverage (WUENIC).
According to statement issued by the CHR and Health Track, the 2016 estimates have revealed that there were eight countries that had less than 50 per cent coverage with DPT3, including Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Ukraine.
It also revealed that worldwide, an estimated 12.9 million infants, nearly 1 in 10 did not receive any vaccinations in 2016, per DPT coverage estimates. In addition to an estimated 6.6 million infants who did receive their first dose of DPT-containing vaccine did not complete the full, three dose DPT immunization series in 2016.
“Although Nigeria was among the few countries reported in the 2016 estimates to have a less than 50 per cent coverage with DPT3, this development also underpin the transparent commitment of the Nigerian government in reporting accurate data which will tremendously boost effort to improve immunization services nationwide and step-up efforts in the states where coverage was at its lowest level,” the statement said.
Experts said amid the stagnation and even regression in some countries, a clear positive accurate data has also emerged this year.
“For the first time at the global level, WHO and UNICEF received immunization coverage data at the subnational level for 125 of 194 countries, 89 of which reported data even further down to lower administrative (district) levels covering a combined population of 88 million people.
“This change represents a huge leap forward in a remarkably short period. And countries like Nigeria deserve our highest praise for reporting the most accurate estimates of coverage, not the highest possible number,” CHR and Track Health stated.
Co-chair of Track Health, Mrs Chika Okaffor said for every $1 invested in Immunization in Africa, $41 is gained in economic and social benefits. “This means investing in Immunization in Nigeria to our teeming children is the answer to national sustainable growth and development. I therefore encourage a concerted effort at national and sub-national levels to utilize this improved quality data and step-up campaigns and ensure no child is left behind,” she said.
Deputy Chairman of the House of Representative Committee on Health, Muhammad Usman, said the legislators will strengthen its oversight function so that Nigerian government will improve immunization and revitalize primary health care services within the shortest possible time.
“All hands must be on deck to ensure sustained and rigorous immunization services in all the 36 states and the FCT,” he emphasized.
Chair of CHR Board of Trustees, Dr Aminu Magashi Garba, said “CSOs are committed to support Nigerian government at federal and sub-national levels through strategic advocacy to political actors and policy makers to maximize the gains of having correct and transparent data to finance immunization, using government budgets and promote timely releases of finances that will lead to the change we all hope to see.”