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The federal government has launched a large-scale campaign to vaccinate children in 19 northern states.

The campaign is part of the effort to boost the immunity of children against measles and meningitis in the country.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains a major cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a statement on Saturday, said the government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and WHO, with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, kicked off the campaign on Saturday to reach more than 28 million children with life-saving vaccines.

The states to benefit from the campaign are Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Kano, Katsina, Plateau, Taraba, Niger, Adamawa, Kaduna and Sokoto. Others are Gombe Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Kwara and the Federal Capital Territory.

Speaking on preparations for the campaign, Joseph Oteri, Director of Disease Control and Immunization, NPHCDA, said “Measles is a highly contagious respiratory viral disease with increased mortality and morbidity in children under five years and Nigeria has experienced repeated outbreaks of measles in recent years due to low routine immunization coverage.”

“In addition, Nigeria is within the meningitis belt, where the incidence rate is very high, especially in the North,” he said.

He reiterated the government’s resolve in ensuring that every eligible child is reached with these life-saving vaccines.

“Government is committed to ensuring every eligible child is reached with these life-saving vaccines. We will go to markets, schools, churches, mosques and everywhere we can get good catchment to reach our target population. No child deserves to die from any vaccine-preventable disease,” he said.

Gavi Country Programmes Managing Director, Thabani Maphosa, said that many Nigerians are at risk of meningitis every year and immunization with the MenA vaccine can help to limit outbreaks.

He said GAVI is working towards vaccinating more than 279 million children in the Africa meningitis belt.

He said that Gavi is supporting the Government of Nigeria by funding measles and MenA vaccines, as well as operational costs for these campaigns.

The WHO Team Lead of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), Fiona Braka, said the measles vaccine remains the most cost-effective preventive measure against measles.

She said WHO is committed to supporting the Nigerian government in reaching every eligible child in the country with the needed vaccines irrespective of their location.

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