AVW 2022: WHO Tasks Nigeria On Routine Immunisation

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The World Health Organisation (WHO), has called on the Nigerian government to strengthen routine immunisation to protect over 24,000 babies born each day and to receive all vaccines scheduled for the first two years of their lives.  

The WHO country representative, Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, made this call at a celebratory event to commemorate the 2022 African Vaccination Week (AVW) organised by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) at the weekend in Abuja. 

Recall that AVN is an annual event celebrated during the last week of April in synchronisation with other WHO Regions and World Immunization Week (WIW).  

The goal of the AVW is to strengthen immunisation programmes in the African region by increasing awareness of the importance of every person’s (particularly every child and woman) need and right to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. 

The over-arching slogan of AVW is “Vaccinated Communities, Healthy Communities”, however, to commemorate this year’s AVW, Nigeria has adopted the theme “Long Life for All – Vaccinate for Healthy Living”. 

Mulombo said that he is aware of the Nigeria Strategy for Routine Immunisation and Primary Health Care Systems Strengthening (NSIPSS) 2.0 which focusing on drastically reducing unimmunised including zero-dose children by the end of 2024. Stressing that the strategy needed more support. 

“I want to, therefore, appreciate the timely introduction of the Immunization Performance Recognition Awards given the symbolic impact it would provide in ensuring that sub-national leaderships drive the enabling factors required for high and sustained immunisation coverage,” he said. 

The WHO Rep. assured Nigerians of the WHO’s continued commitment to the agenda of PHC revitalisation, immunisation systems strengthening and interruption of the cVPDV2 outbreak in the country.

“I am very confident with the strategies adapted. We will continue to sustain eradication of WPV in Nigeria,” he added. 

The UNICEF Nigeria representative and chief of health for Nigeria, Dr. Eduardo Blanco, said the hard work, perseverance and dedication of the front-line health workers including doctors, nurses, midwives and volunteers working round the clock to provide health and immunisation services to Nigerians is astonishing. 

“I have seen the hard work, effort, commitment and perseverance of health workers at all levels: I have witnessed community volunteers working tirelessly in their communities. 

“I have seen health workers working 24/7 to provide services to women and children and I have observed the leadership, commitment and sound technical knowledge of NPHCDA and Federal Ministry of Health staff at all levels,” Blanco said. 

The representative, USAID Nigeria, Dr. Melissa Freeman called on the country not to forget to continuously emphasise the fact that vaccines and hand-washing remain the most effective public health measures for diseases’ prevention and control. 

Freeman said that the country has made progress in improving routine immunisation and reaching zero doses and under-immunised children. 

“It is my earnest hope that we continue making progress until we can globally eliminate more than just smallpox. 

“USAID Routine Immunisation programmes are implemented across 16 states, including humanitarian settings and our polio programmes have provided support since 1998, contributing to the wild polio eradication three years ago. 

“At the same time, USAID supported routine immunisation and global health security efforts to strengthen surveillance and response to newly emerging diseases,” she said. 

She, however, said she looked forward to the outcomes of USAID’s $33.3 million support for the SCALES 3.0 COVID 19 vaccination acceleration across 36 states and the FCT that would help ensure shots in arms for the U.S. government donation of over 48 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. 

Meanwhile, on the sideline of the event, Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria (BA-N), with support from USAID had a soft launch of its newest COVID-19 social behaviour change campaign tagged “Follow Who Know Road (FWKR).” 

At their exhibition stand to commemorate the AWV, they distributed some promotional materials such as tee-shirts, face caps, lapel pins, bumper stickers, jotters, fliers and danglers. Also shared were different SBC materials across all programme areas, including tuberculosis, nutrition, family planning, malaria etc.

Racheal Abujah
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