Immunisation rate in Imo State has dropped by 68 per cent, a report by the World Health Organisation has indicated.
Dr. Stella Ukaegbu, the Coordinator, Primary Health Care Facilities, Imo State Ministry of Health, disclosed this at a sensitisation and awareness programme organised by the National Orientation Agency.
The programme was held on Thursday at Nkwerre and Aboh Mbaise Local Government areas of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the programme was a collaboration by WHO and UNICEF.
Ukaegbu attributed the decline to the October rumour of an outbreak of Monkey Pox purportedly due to vaccination administered by the military to children.
She said that many parents, especially women, became afraid to submit their children and wards for immunisation as a result of the rumour.
The coordinator said that a recent report from the WHO indicated that the rate of immunisation of children in Imo had declined.
Ukaegbu said that the rumour was false, misleading and meant to instill fears into minds of people and create panic.
She said: “Before now, Imo used to have more than 100 per cent immunisation rate, but after that rumour, the rate has reduced to 32 per cent.”
The health coordinator highlighted some of the benefits of immunisation to include prevention of the six killer diseases in children and reduction in mortality rate among children and expectant mothers.
Ukaegbu said the aim of the programme was to disabuse the minds of people about the rumour and to encourage parents to revert to the old way of bringing their children for immunisation programme scheduled for March 2018.
Vitus Ekeocha, the State Director of NOA, also said that since the Monkey Pox saga, there had been problem of immunisation in the South East states which had affected the statistics of immunisation in the states.
He said that the army merely carried out a medical outreach on the people and never vaccinated any child.
According to him, there is no vaccination yet for Monkey Pox as such there is no need for any vaccination.
Ekeocha urged parents not to relent in bringing out their children for immunisation against the killer diseases of measles, diarrhea, cholera, chicken pox and polio.
He said: “Immunisation is free and safe. Lack of it can lead to deformation or death of children. Moreover, Monkey Pox vaccination has not been discovered.”
Blessing Azubuike, the Child’s Rights Officer with the Ministry of Women Affairs, said that it is the right of every child to survive, live a healthy life and be acceptable in the society.
She said the ministry now had a family court that was prosecuting those abusing children according to the Child’s Rights Law of Imo, 2004, and urged parents and guardian not to fall victim.
Earlier, the Transition Committee Chairmen of Nkwerre and Aboh Mbaise LGAs, Pascal Onwudike and Esther Eburuche, had thanked NOA, WHO and UNICEF for the sensitisation programme.
They urged the traditional rulers, the community, youth and women leaders to carry the message to other members of the communities for the safety of children.
The traditional rulers of the community also commended the visitors for their concern on the children.
The traditional ruler of Umuaro Autonomous Community in Nkwerre LGA, Eze Emmanuel Oluigbo, the Aro 1 of Umuaro, on behalf of other traditional rulers promised to disseminate the message at the grassroots.
NAN reports that traditional rulers, community, youth, women leaders and other stakeholders were present at the sensitization programme.