Donor Agencies have commended Nigeria in the areas of vaccination and immunization.
The Director, Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters while giving the commendation, after a tour of one of the Primary Health Care facilities on Thursday in Abuja, said that haven gone round the facility, it was impressive to note that Nigerians were willingly receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.
She stated that for Nigeria to meet up with the seventy per cent global target of COVID-19 vaccination coverage, more effort need to be put in place.
O’Brien also hinted that, “nobody knows when another variant will emerge and for that reason, all hands must be on deck to ensure wide vaccination coverage.
She said that she was delighted to see the turn out of mothers and fatherd at the clinic with their children for Immunization.
O’Brien said that the need to create more awareness on the need for mothers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 saying, after interacting with the patients, she discovered that most of the patients at the facility were not vaccinated.
According to O’Brien , “You have all the materials and supplies. What is left is for the people to understand how important it is to be vaccinated. This is important because we’ve seen the waves of variants. They come in every four months. Nobody knows if there is going to be another variant.
“This is an opportunity for us to ensure that everybody is vaccinated. We therefore cannot afford to drop our guard. Regardless of where you live, or your age, you still need to get vaccinated when it’s your turn, with a complete course and booster dose if offered, and continue to take all the other preventive measures, both to protect yourself and others. Ending the pandemic requires us to get to much higher levels of vaccination in key target groups and it must include getting all vulnerable individuals and health care workers vaccinated as a priority”.
More so, the WHO Regional Immunization Advisor for Africa, Dr. Richard Mihigo tasked the federal government to heighten the surveillance system and increase coverage for polio vaccination to protect new born children.
Mihigo also stressed the need to address misinformation.
He noted that that part of the team’s visit to Nigeria is to work with the authorities to understand the challenges and barriers hindering the acceptance of the vaccine.
“Additionally, misinformation and disinformation fuel mistrust. This puts health and lives at risk; undermines trust in science, institutions and health systems; and hinders the response to the pandemic. Whenever misinformation and disinformation clash with evidence-based science, another person is impeded from making the right decisions to protect their health. On our part, we are working with the authorities to understand the barriers and challenges. How the international community will work with the government to overcome them“, he said.
Similarly, the Assistant Administrator for Global Health, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Atul Gawande, said that the USAID assistance,that came through Gavi, in the PHC, was a freezer to keep all the vaccines for the children and now for COVID-19 cold.
Gwande added that the freeze had been in the PHC with a solar panel for five years and functioning beautifully.
According to him, the whole room is filled with parents with their children who have come to get their vaccines, the FCT is has a very high rate of successful vaccination for children. And we would like to see that across the country.
Meanwhile, an Independent Gavi board member, Professor Helen Rees, said that it was unfortunate that a lot of children in Nigeria do not have access to vaccination.
She hinted that, one of the most powerful tools Gavi is working on is to ensure that children in Africa and Nigeria are protected.
She added that Gavi will continue supporting the Nigerian government in rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and increase routine immunization so that some of the commonest disease like diarrhea and pneumonia are prevented.
On her part, the Director, Primary Healthcare System at the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Nneka Onwu, said that some of the challenges facing vaccination in Nigeria included epileptic power supply for storage of vaccines and funding amongst others.
The delegates are in Nigeria to interact with the Nigerian Ministry of health and its agencies towards evaluating and assessing what has been done in the health sector in the past couple of years.
The mission is targeted at ensuring an accountability framework that was developed in 2018 between Nigeria and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, GAVI.