The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has entered into a partnership with the Community Health Influencers Promoters and Services (CHIPS) agents to improve routine immunisation in Nigeria.
Speaking at a news conference on the State of the World’s Children (SOWC) report, UNICEF Nigeria health manager, Dr Dorothy Ochola-Odongo emphasised the importance of the participation of CHIPS agents in social mobilisation activities to encourage confidence in parents and caregivers in the communities.
Ochola-Odongo stated that CHIPS agents are selected by their communities and are trusted communicators, making them effective at convincing the public about the importance of vaccinating their children. She further explained that it is vital that vaccines are stored in the right place and at the right quality, necessitating an expansion of the whole chain system.
To achieve this, she said, the UNICEF is working with GAVI to expand cold chain stores in Lagos, Abuja and Kano.
According to the SOWC report, misinformation and disinformation have significantly decreased vaccination coverage levels, with 67 million children missing out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021. Ochola-Odongo stressed that building the capacity of relevant stakeholders and engaging communities through trusted sources of information are effective approaches to combat this trend.
The report highlighted that vaccine confidence is volatile and time-specific, with 48 million children missing out on a single routine vaccine, also known as a “zero-dose”.
India and Nigeria, both countries with large birth cohorts, had the largest numbers of zero-dose children, with Nigeria having two million. UNICEF’s collaboration with CHIPS agents is expected to contribute to improving these figures by encouraging routine immunisation in Nigeria.