Recent reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the journal Nature Communications have indicated low levels of vaccination against preventable childhood killer diseases in the country and Africa.
Rising global temperatures have caused increase in mosquito and other vector-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, zika and dengue fever. Latest update on Lassa fever from the NCDC revealed that 11 new confirmed cases were reported in five states.
The NCDC noted that since the beginning of this year, 122 deaths have been confirmed and the Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) is at 22.7 per cent. The centre recorded that 21 states and Abuja have registered at least one confirmed incident across 81 local councils; including Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna and Kwara.
Also, a study published on April 11, 2019 in the journal Nature Communications found diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination levels in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Mozambique and Cambodia, Southeast Asia, fall short of the 80 per cent threshold recommended by WHO.
This is an indication that there may be an increase in epidemic breakouts since vaccination levels are very low. However, the supply of vaccines has always been problematic for Nigeria, primarily because funds were not sufficient and were not released on time.
Government is encouraged to increase support for the states and local governments in their immunization programmes by supplying vaccines, needles and syringes, cold chain equipment and other things and logistics as may be required for those programme.
Other propositions are;
- Advocacy to political leaders to give child health a priority in their budget, especially at States and LGAs.
- Private companies should discharge their social responsibilities in area of health in their host communities.
- There should be more sensitization and education of the public on immunization both for adults and children alike
- Lastly, at federal level, monitoring and evaluation team should be formed to assess on continuous basis and establish performance indicators.