By Asmau Ahmad
The National Immunisation Coverage Survey Results show that Nigeria has made progress in routine immunisation coverage over the years.
The UNICEF Chief, Kano Field Office, Mr Rahama Farah, disclosed this at a two-day media dialogue in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Wednesday in Kano.
The dialogue is on Routine Immunisation and Challenge of Zero Dose Children in Particular, organised for journalists from Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states.
Farah, who said that the dialogue is to galvanise actions and collaborate with government and persons in positions to take favourable steps toward uplifting children’s wellbeing, added that “in spite of progress made in immunisation, gaps still exist.
“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 any childhood killer disease.
“This is about 40 per cent 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.”
He said that the UN agency has a mandate to protect and promote children’s rights, stressing that “UNICEF is extremely concerned when children don’t get immunised.”
According to him, when children have no access to immunisation services, their basic fundamental right is not fulfilled.
Farah added that in spite of proven safety, efficacy, and availability of vaccines, immunisation uptake had not always been optimal.
The UNICEF chief, therefore, urged the media to focus more on issues that affect the wellbeing of women and children in their reportage.
He said “let me thank the media for the supportive and collaborative role on child survival, development, and protection issues over the years.
“At UNICEF, we monitor the media daily and see the content on child rights issues; and stories on children and women represent a sizable content published by the robust Nigerian media.
“Let me emphasise that your role in advancing and promoting public health services and promoting children rights in Nigeria is very critical.
“Immunisation is the single, most cost-effective, and high-impact intervention that protects children against illnesses and death caused by vaccine- preventable diseases.”
He pointed out that myths, disinformation, misinformation and rumours contributed a great deal to poor immunisation uptake, exposing children to risks that could be avoided through immunisation.
Farah, therefore, urged the media to create the demand for immunisation and to raise awareness about the importance of immunisation by providing accurate information to caregivers, families, and communities.
He further called on the governments to increase strategic interventions to address 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.
He also told them to provide essential medicines and health commodities, infrastructure, electricity and water for quality integrated Primary Health Care service for people.
“Let me conclude by reiterating UNICEF’s commitment to work with and support the state governments to ensure that the well-being of children and their rights are fulfilled and protected,” Farah said.