In line with efforts to compensate for missed routine immunisation during the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has partnered the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) to immunise at least 930,000 Zero-dose children in Nigeria yearly.
WHO Team Lead, Vaccine Preventable Diseases and Polio Eradication, Dr. Kofi Boateng disclosed this on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at an NPHCDA Engagement with states on optimised outreach strategy held in Abuja.
Boateng noted that WHO, had a media roundtable with journalists to highlight the fact that the impact of Covid-19 had resulted to about 33 million children not receiving any vaccine in the African continent from 2019 to 2021.
He explained that, “the fact that these children had not received any vaccine is the reason why we are seeing a lot of outbreaks like measles, diphtheria, yellow fever and so on. As part of preparation for the African vaccination week celebration, which is riding on the theme ‘the big catch up’, this meeting is to support Nigeria to prepare to catch up about 6.2 million children that did not receive any vaccine from 2019 to 2021 in Nigeria”.
He further informed that they were reviewing the strategies that the states were going to adopt to make sure that all health facilities intensify the outreaches in sessions, so that “we can catch up on these numbers of children”.
Boateng stated that the most effective
strategy realised was the need to take the vaccination to the people via fixed sessions, outreach sessions and mobile sessions for specific group of populations based on their proximity to the health facility.
Speaking further, he lamented that outreach sessions were not yielding the desired results and pledged WHO’s support to improve the number:
“What we have noticed is that in Nigeria for the outreach sessions that are supposed to go to the communities you are not seeing the number of yield in terms of number of children vaccinated over a longer period.
“We are discussing the issue of partner supporting the state in terms of resourcing, engaging the state authorities to make sure the funds are released to support this plan. In the WHO, we have presence in all the 36 states and we also have staff in almost every ward supporting polio eradication and other PHC services. So we will leverage that to support government to make sure all plans at those levels are of high quality
“WHO supports strategic policy, we also monitor what is happening. We have the teams in the fields that would be supporting the state in terms of coordination, planning and implementation.
“In terms of implementation, we are going to participate in the training of health workers. We are going to monitor the progress of the process. We’re also going to assess the quality of services as a result of the outreach in terms of data on the actual number of children that are going to be vaccinated.
“We are hoping that by the end we have as partners with government we have agreed that every year we’ll reduce the burden of zero dose by 15%. We hope that by the end of this we’ll reduce that dose by that percentage”, Boateng stated.
On his part, Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib disclosed that plans for special logistics had been made to take routine immunisation to hard to reach areas. These include using of boats in riverine areas, motorcycles, bicycles in rocky and desert areas to take vaccines to the children.
He noted that there was need for a paradigm shift, for parents to make their children available to receive vaccines and healthcare workers on the other hand optimise every available opportunity to reach children most especially in hard to reach communities, pointing that it was sometimes difficult for parents to take their children to health facilities that are very far from them, when they take the vaccines to them, it’ll be easier.
Similarly, Director Disease Control and Immunization, NPHCDA, Dr. Bassey Okposen noted that, “most states were not conducting outreaches the way they should. We therefore drew up optimised strategies on how to make the outreaches better, share with them the optimised outreach strategy approach so they can do better.
“We’re also using the opportunity to talk to the states about the HPV vaccine that would be introduced on the 25th of September”, he said.