By Iyemah David
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has urged Nigerians to support child routine immunisation.
The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said this at the closeout event by the Solina Centre for International Development and Research (SCIDaR), involved in Routine Immunisation Strengthening Project (NNRISP).
The NNRISP is being implemented in Kano, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kaduna, Yobe and Borno States.
The event with the theme “Insights for Impact at Scale,” showcased the achievements and valuable lessons learned during the seven years of collaboration, while also disseminated knowledge products that add to the body of evidence on immunization and PHC systems.
Shuaib, who was represented by Dr Mohammed Abubakar, Director, National Advocacy Communications Social Mobilisation, NPHCDA, said that the agency’s collaboration during the project improved immunisation in the country.
He said to sustain the gains, the agency needs the support of everyone and all relevant stakeholders.
Also speaking, the Senior Country manager, GAVI Nigeria, Ms Jessica Crawford, said that GAVI would continue to support the country’s initiatives that ensure vaccines were available to every child.
Crawford said that GAVI would keep supporting the journey of reaching every child with life-saving vaccines in the country.
The Emir of Dass, Alhaji Usman Bilyaminu, said that the country is seeing a lot of progress in immunisation, stressing that it could do better.
Dr Musa Matazu, McKing Consultant supporting the work for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in Yobe, said that the project was informed by the poor health indices, weak health system and the lack of accountability in the health system in the implementing states.
“Five years now into the implementation of the MoU, the indices have improved, which we have seen the increase in immunization coverage from nine per cent in 2013 to 51 per cent in the last survey that was conducted for Yobe State.
“Now, there is a kind of assured funding for critical health activities, which, hitherto were not available; even if available, they were not accounted for.
“Even if accounted for, there were a lot of pilferages and misdirection of the fund to where they are not even important.
“It has also improved the management capacity of the implementing staff in terms of capacity independence,” he said.
Matazu said that the project has also seen a high-level involvement, where it had the Deputy Governor as the Chairman of the TaskForce on Immunization and Primary Health Care (PHC), which sits every month to hear what the project has done, its coverage, it’s challenges and next plan.
“When you look at the availability of vaccines, we used to have over 60 per cent of stockout of vaccines before the project, but currently in Yobe, we have been under five per cent in the past four years,” he said.
Dr Raihanah Ibrahim, Principal Programme Manager, SCIDaR, said that the NNRISP has been on an evolutionary journey with the MoUs over the past ten years.
Dr Ibrahim said that all the steps taken were to strengthen Primary Health care in implementing states and more importantly, allow states to take ownership of the project.
She said that social-cultural factors such as poverty, illiteracy and myths affected the acceptance and uptake of immunization in communities where the project was implemented.
“However, the MoUs changed the narrative, addressed gaps and increased engagement through sustained advocacy.
“Political will of state governments and systems approach that promotes accountability is a positive asset to the MOUs establishment and implementation thus enabling transferable focus on finances, stock/supply chain and data monitoring from governance to facility level,” she explained.
Dr Adebola Adedimeji, a Research Professor, said that the NNRISP has increased average immunisation performance in six implemented states from 2015 to 2019.
Adedimeji said that the most significant increase was recorded in Kaduna, which went from 46 per cent in 2015 to 92 per cent in 2019 and Sokoto, which increased from 45 per cent in 2015 to 96 per cent in 2019.