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FG, UNICEF to Address Poor Immunization Rates in States



The federal government and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have commenced measures to identify and fix lapses causing low children immunization uptake in some states in the country.



According to a report of the National Immunization Coverage Survey commissioned by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) in 2021 and conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) under guidance from the UNICEF, only 36 per cent of children aged 12-23 months recieved all recommended vaccines in Nigeria.


It showed that 64 per cent of children of age 12-23 months did not recieve all routine immunizations.


The survey, which was part of the UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Coverage Survey (MICS) involving 5,582 children from 1,779 survey clusters across Nigeria, showed that more children were fully vaccinated in the southern zones compared to northern zones.



Some of the reasons identified for the poor vaccination rates are lack of knowledge or information and service delivery issues and mistrust or fears and lack of time or other family issues.


Speaking on Tuesday at the opening of a two-day Media Dialogue on MICS held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, organised by the Child Rights Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture with support from the UNICEF, a communication specialist, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, expressed concern that despite measures undertaken to scale up immunization patronage in the states, coverage in some of the states still remains low.


He specifically mentioned the case of Sokoto State, which recorded low vaccination rate of 11 per cent despite advocacy efforts involving the Sultan of Sokoto and other community leaders.


Other states such as Kebbi, Gombe, Bauchi and Yobe also have vaccination of 50 per cent and below.


Njoku said that one of the aims of the media dialogue was to find why the trend has not changed in the desired manner.


Njoku said MICS 6 is an improvement on previous five years yet it presented indices on poor performance on health, education and other areas of SDGs across the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).


The UNICEF Chief of Measurement for Result, Claes Johanson, who made a presentation at the event, said the survey report has been accepted by the Federal Ministry of Health and all the relevant agencies in the sector.


He added that at the launch of the report early this year, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, as well as the NPHCDA boss, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, endorsed the outcome of NICS as a call for action.


Johanson said that one of the ways to change the awful trend is to “invest more in the human resource and in healthcare in the country”.


On what to do with states with low immunization rates, he said they should look at the survey results and consider what they need to change.


According to him, if there is commitment and the right investment is made, the country will have a success story to tell.


In her speech, the Director of Child Rights Information Bureau, Ms. Mercy Megwa, said the media has a partner over the years in the dissemination of information to the public on issues that affect children and women.


Megwa, who was represented by Mr. Falayi Temitoye, said: “The media has really helped in shaping the situation of the Nigerian child especially in getting government’s commitment to providing the resources for the care and development of children.”


She said the federal government appreciates the financial and technical support provided by UNICEF.

Culled from THISDAY

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