By Asmau Ahmad & Bilkisu Ado Zango
“Most children in Nigeria were still dying from vaccine-preventable diseases due to people’s wrong attitude” says the World Health Organization (WHO) National Surveillance Officer, Dr Irene Isibor, on Friday at the 19th Biennial Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, held at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba. The theme of the conference is: “Internally Displaced Persons, Health and Socio-economic Impact.’’
Isibor said, “The distribution of the estimated deaths among children under five years of age, from diseases that are preventable by vaccination in 2008 in Nigeria shows that, measles accounts for 118, 000, death from Neonatal tetanus-59,000, Tetanus (non-neonatal)-2,000, Pneumococcal disease- 476, 000, Rotavirus- 453,000, Pertussis- 195,000, and Hib-199,000 added that, everyday in 2015, 16,000 children under five years continue to die, mostly from preventable causes.”
She reiterated that, child survival must remain the focus of the post-2015 development agenda since immunization is one of the most successful public health initiatives, noted that there is a need to fully embrace and implement it.
According to her, the number of children under five years dying every year as of today has reduced to 6.3 million from 12.7 million in 1990 due to administration of vaccines urged Nigerians to develop the right attitudes to immunization of their children against the child-killer diseases and stop all the myths attached to them.
In her remarks, other successes recorded in the administration of vaccines include Smallpox which she said has been eradicated and polio is close to being eradicated, Vaccines for measles, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis save around 2.5 million lives each year. Since 2000, measles deaths have declined by 75 per cent while deaths from maternal and neonatal tetanus have plunged to 90 per cent over the past two decades indicated that, new vaccines also provide weapons against pneumonia and diarrhea which are the two leading killers of children.
Furthermore, she identified three key steps to close the immunization gap including integrating immunization with other services such as post-natal care for mothers and babies while others include strengthening the health system to accommodate all categories, especially during crisis added that, there should also be assurance that everyone can access vaccines and afford to pay for them.