In its effort to combat the menacing occurrences of measles and meningitis among children, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), World Health Organisation (WHO), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance have kicked off a campaign to reach more than 28 million children with lifesaving vaccines.
This campaign is designed for 19 states in the Northern region, including ￼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 the campaign, the Director of Disease Control and Immunization, NPHCDA, Dr Joseph Oteri, 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 further stated: “Government is committed to ensuring every eligible child is reached with these lifesaving 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”.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020. WHO is the lead technical agency responsible for coordination of immunization and surveillance activities supporting all countries to achieve this goal.
“Gavi is committed to supporting Nigeria in achieving its goal of improved immunisation coverage. Diseases like measles are both devastating and easily preventable – more than 21 million lives around the world have been saved with the measles vaccine,” said Thabani Maphosa, Gavi Country Programmes Managing Director.
“Furthermore, with so many Nigerians at risk from meningitis every year, immunisation with the MenA vaccine can help to limit outbreaks. Gavi’s work vaccinating more than 279 million children in Africa’s meningitis belt has shown the ability of the vaccine to reduce prevalence of the disease”.
Gavi is supporting the Government of Nigeria by funding measles and MenA vaccines, as well as operational costs for these campaigns.
These resources are provided for integrated MenA and Measles campaigns in 17 states and in Kano (Measles and MenA stand-alone), Yobe (Measles) and five other southern states (e.g., Oyo, Imo, Cross River, Eboyni and Anambra) that are planning MenA campaigns in December 2019.
For its part, WHO Nigeria has trained over 44,000 health workers and is mobilizing over 17,000 vaccination teams to support these campaigns.
Dr Fiona Braka, the WHO Team Lead of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) reiterated that, “The measles vaccine remains the most cost effective preventive measure against measles and WHO is committed to supporting the Nigerian government in reaching every eligible child in the country with the needed vaccines irrespective of their location.”