In its efforts boost the immunity of children against measles and meningitis in Nigeria, the federal government has announced it plans to vaccinate about 28million children against Measles and Meningitis.
In a statement made available to journalists over the weekend, children in the 19 Northern states are to be vaccinated in what the statement described as a “largescale campaign”.
The campaign according to the statement is implemented by the Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and support from Gavi.
The statement listed the states to include: Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Kano, Katsina, Plateau, Taraba, Niger, Adamawa, Kaduna and Sokoto.
Others are Gombe Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Kwara and the Federal Capital Territory.
Speaking on preparations for the campaign, the Director of Disease Control and Immunization, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr Joseph Oteri, lamented that Nigeria has experienced repeated outbreaks of measles in recent years due to low routine immunization coverage.
He reaffirmed government commitment to ensure that every eligible child is reached with the lifesaving vaccines.
“Measles is a highly contagious respiratory viral disease with increased mortality and morbidity in children under five years, and Nigeria has experienced repeated outbreaks of measles in recent years due to low routine immunization coverage.
“In addition, Nigeria is within the meningitis belt, where the incidence rate is very high, especially in the North.
“Government is committed to ensuring every eligible child is reached with these lifesaving vaccines. We will go to markets, schools, churches, mosques and everywhere we can get good catchment to reach our target population. No child deserves to die from any vaccine preventable disease”, he said.
On his part, Thabani Maphosa, Gavi Country Programmes Managing Director disclosed that Gavi is committed to supporting Nigeria in achieving its goal of improved immunisation coverage.
While stressing that diseases like measles are both devastating and can be easily prevented, the Gavi boss added that more than 21 million lives around the world have been saved with the measles vaccine.
He added that Gavi is supporting the government of Nigeria by funding measles and MenA vaccines, as well as operational costs for these campaigns.
“These resources are provided for integrated MenA and Measles campaigns in 17 states and in Kano (Measles and MenA stand-alone), Yobe (Measles) and five other southern states (e.g., Oyo, Imo, Cross River, Eboyni and Anambra) that are planning MenA campaigns in December 2019”, he added.
Meanwhile, the WHO Nigeria has said that it has trained over 44,000 health workers and is mobilizing over 17,000 vaccination teams to support these campaigns.
Dr Fiona Braka, the WHO Team Lead of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) reiterated that,
“The measles vaccine remains the most cost effective preventive measure against measles.
Dr Braka added that WHO is committed to supporting the Nigerian government in reaching every eligible child in the country with the needed vaccines irrespective of their location.