SCI says immunization is pinnacle to saving millions of lives
By: Our Correspondent
Save the Children International Nigeria states that immunization saves millions of lives and is recognized as one of the world’s most successful health interventions. The Media and Communication Manager, Kunle Olawoyin, of SCI Nigeria stated this in a statement to mark this year’s World Immunization Week with the theme of ‘The Big Catch-Up.’
The statement explains that the benefits of vaccines are fully realized when children receive all recommended vaccine doses in a timely manner. However, SCI expressed dismay that immunization coverage in Nigeria is below the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) goals. Only 36% of children aged 12-23 months received all recommended vaccines, and 18% did not receive any, putting a substantial number of children at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.
According to the findings of the 2021 Nigeria Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) and National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS) carried out by the NBS as part of the global MICS program, the infant mortality rate is 63 deaths per 1,000 live births for the five-year period preceding the survey, while the under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) for the same period is 102 deaths per 1,000 live births. The neonatal mortality rate is 34 deaths per 1,000 live births, and child mortality is 42 deaths per 1,000 live births. The under-5 mortality rate of children born in the poorest households (133 per 1,000) was nearly three times the under-5 mortality rate for children born in the richest households (47 per 1,000).
Save the Children believes that immunization saves millions of lives, and it is recognized as one of the world’s most successful health interventions. The National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS) 2021 shows that substantially more children are fully vaccinated in the southern zones compared to the northern zones.
SCI urged all stakeholders to continue building strong political commitment to increase immunization coverage and other primary healthcare interventions, thus contributing to increased domestic investment in health to meet the Abuja Declaration of 15% (2011) as against the present 8% budgetary allocation to health by Nigeria in 2023 at the national level.
Save the Children stated that it will work with partners and stakeholders to ensure that increased health spending directly improves child health services, including removing catastrophic health spending, reducing non-financial barriers to accessing care, and prioritizing primary health services in Nigeria.
In her remarks, the Acting Country Director, (SCI) Nigeria, Faton Krasniqi, said, “There is an urgent need to empower Ward Development Committees (WDC) at the sub-national level to drive accountability processes, as well as promote community action. Expand the stakeholder base to include local communities, including pastoralists, to ensure vaccines reach difficult terrains and strengthen coordination, collaboration, and implement accountability frameworks for routine immunization with a view to improving community engagement to increase uptake of routine immunization services in Nigeria.”