The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to enhance vaccination coverage in Nigeria.
The executive director of NPHCDA, Dr. Muyi Aina made this commitment during the conclusion of the 14th African Rotavirus Symposium (ARS) in Abuja. The symposium, organised by AfrRN was co-hosted by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and NPHCDA, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).
Aina acknowledged the substantial impact of rotavirus infections in the country and underscored the significance of addressing this disease. He particularly highlighted the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine into Nigeria’s routine immunization schedule as a crucial step forward in combating rotavirus infections. Expressing gratitude to partners and stakeholders for their support in enhancing routine immunisation coverage, he stressed the imperative of ensuring that all eligible individuals receive their immunisations promptly to effectively combat rotavirus infections.
Emphasising the need for collective efforts and determination to make a difference and protect every child through vaccination, Aina called for continued collaboration and support. He urged for a united front in introducing the rotavirus vaccine in African countries that have not yet implemented it.
The director-general of NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa also stressed the importance of collaboration and support for the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in African countries that have not yet implemented it. He emphasised the need to continue genomic surveillance and monitoring of the genetic diversity of rotavirus strains post-vaccine and post-vaccine switch. Adetifa advocated for a one-health approach to better assess the evolution dynamics of rotavirus and highlighted the necessity of enhancing collection, storage, transportation, and data management at regional rotavirus laboratories across the continent.
Co-chair of the local organising committee, Dr. Oyeladun Okunromade urged the remaining 12 African countries to introduce rotavirus vaccines into their national immunisation programs. She emphasised the importance of adopting the action plan for the prevention and control of pneumonia and malaria, known as GAPT-4 and accelerating action to protect against and reduce childhood mortality and morbidity.
Okunromade also called on GAVI, UNICEF, and WHO to address the persistent issue of rotavirus vaccine stockpiling and improve communication with countries regarding vaccine forecasting. She stressed the critical nature of these measures to ensure the effective impact of rotavirus vaccines on fertility, mortality and overall health outcomes.
Rotavirus is the most common severe diarrheal disease in Africa, causing over 450,000 deaths each year in children under five. It is responsible for millions of hospitalisations and clinic visits. The African Rotavirus Network (AfrRN), established in 1998, aims to address the burden of the disease on the continent. The network comprises members of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO), ministries of health and other partners. Its mission includes determining the diversity of circulating rotavirus strains, understanding the burden of rotavirus disease and raising awareness of this illness in Africa. Since the inaugural African Rotavirus Symposium in South Africa in 2000, subsequent symposia have been organised in various African nations.