UNICEF: 4.3 million children miss out on basic vaccinations every year

The United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), has said despite Federal Governments efforts to ensure all under 5 children were immunised, about 4.3 million Nigeria children still miss out on the important vaccinations.

A statement made available to newsmen by UNICEF’s Communication Specialist, Eva Hinds on Monday in Abuja, noted that he was contained in the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS5) 2017/2018, conducted by the government and development partners including UNICEF. The study revealed that only 1 in 4 children in Nigeria receive all the recommended vaccines.

Worried by the trend, the Representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, lamented that the coverage of the main vaccines offered through routine immunisation in the country has declined.

According to him, children who have never been vaccinated were at the greatest risk of contracting killer diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and tetanus, which may be fatal or lead to long-term debilitating effects on survivors.

“Nigeria has made great strides in reducing deaths of under 5-year-old children from 158 to 120 per 1000 births between 2011 and 2016. Yet, during the same period, the coverage of the main vaccines offered through routine immunization has declined.

“Immunization coverage for pentavalent vaccine between the 36 states varies dramatically from 80 percent in Lagos to 3 percent in Sokoto and is still below the recommended global goal of 90 percent in all of them.

“Poverty, overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation as well as insufficient nutrition and healthcare increase the risk of diseases such as pneumonia and measles; diseases that are easily preventable with vaccines.

“All girls and boys, no matter where they live or what their situations are, have the right to survive and thrive, safe from deadly diseases. Vaccination acts as a shield, keeping families and communities safe. By vaccinating children, we are protecting the most vulnerable members of the communities.

“Millions of lives can be saved by extending basic health services, like routine immunization, to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. In Nigeria, the Government has developed an ambitious 10-year national Immunisation and Primary Health Care Systems Strengthening Plan that aims to reverse the current negative trends.

“Immunization is one of the most powerful and most cost-effective health interventions, and its partners continue to stand firm with the Government to ensure that the lives of children are protected,” the statement reads.

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