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Nigeria has 2.3 million unvaccinated children

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Top 10 countries contributed 80.3% of the zero-dose children in 2019 and 2022.

According to the 2023 results report released by the World Health Organization, Nigeria has been identified as the leading country among the top 20 zero-dose countries of 2022. It is estimated that there are over 2.3 million zero-dose children in Nigeria, accounting for about 16 percent of the global number. This revealed the country’s public health status despite facing significant challenges such as conflict, climate change, and disease outbreaks. The report came out before the 2024 77th World Health Assembly, scheduled from May 27 to June 1, 2024.

Children who have not received any routine vaccinations, known as zero-dose children, are a significant concern in global health. These children are identified by their lack of access to or contact with immunisation services, particularly evident in their failure to receive the initial DTP vaccine, which is a vaccine that contains diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis. In the report, Nigeria tops zero-dose countries for 2022, which is a pointer to the country’s health condition. The Nigerian government is focusing on reaching communities with the highest number of unvaccinated children in their efforts to strengthen immunisation and the primary health care systems nationally.

Health stakeholder partners to reach the impacted communities.

By the end of 2028, the aim is to significantly decrease the amount of children impacted by 80%. In 2023, the WHO Regional Office for Africa highlighted Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, the United Republic of Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Mali, Chad, and Cameroon as the top 10 countries with the highest number of children who have not received any vaccinations. According to the regional office, these 10 countries are responsible for 80.3% of the total number of children who have not received any doses of vaccines between 2019 and 2022.

One of the main objectives of the World Health Assembly’s Immunisation Agenda 2030 is to enhance both coverage and fairness levels in order to decrease the number of children who have not received any doses of vaccines. In order to address the health challenges of communities without access to immunisation, the Ministry of Health partnered with WHO and other sectors through the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All. This collaboration aimed to effectively implement the NSIPSS starting in 2020, focusing on reaching those communities with immunisation services within the primary healthcare system.

Only 6 million children were vaccinated between March 2021 to January 2023.

This move also aligns with the Output 4.2.1 of the WHO Programme Budget for 2022-2023. From March 2021 to January 2023, a total of six million children have received life-saving immunisations. Out of this number, an annual average of over five million children have successfully received the third dose of the pentavalent vaccine (Penta3). Accurate and good-quality data is crucial for pinpointing communities needing health interventions. In collaboration with the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency established a data system in 2020 to detect areas with zero vaccination rates.

Also, this system combines immunisation records, information from health facilities, survey results, local community data on a smaller scale, and various other data sources. Through stakeholder gatherings and workshops, an examination of the data revealed that by focusing on 100 local government areas across 18 states, they could potentially reach 1.5 million children who have not received any vaccines out of the 2.3 million in the country, thereby enhancing immunisation rates. This thorough analysis guided updates to the priority tasks for those children within the NSIPSS program.

Related Article: Nigeria among highest zero-dose children

In order to increase childhood vaccination rates in Nigeria, a significant and ongoing effort will be needed to ensure that every child who has not received any vaccines and every underserved community is reached. By uniting efforts and sharing best practices, the government, healthcare providers, community leaders, and international partners can significantly increase vaccination rates and protect the health of Nigeria’s children. Together, they can create a more resilient and sustainable immunisation system that ensures every child can access life-saving vaccines.

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WHO: Website

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