Every year, the last week in April is dedicated to creating awareness and fostering conversations about immunization all over the world over. Immunization is the process of introducing a vaccine into the body of an individual, usually young children, in order to create immunity against a certain disease. All newborns have an immunization schedule that covers the major vaccines over a period of 12months.
Polio, Measles, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough Tuberculosis and Yellow Fever are the most common vaccines administered to young children in Nigeria. The Expanded Programme on Immunization was introduced in 1978 make immunization accessible to kids below two years of age. Despite this ambitious programme, which did lead to an increase in immunization numbers, millions of Nigerian children still go without proper vaccinations. As recently as 2016, UNICEF Stats showed that only about a quarter of Nigerian children were getting the necessary vaccines.
Over the years, decades even, various bodes and other nations have joined forces with the Nigerian Government in a concerted effort to improve immunization and eradicate certain diseases. The fight against Polio was a major focus of UNICEF and WHO. the hope was to achieve total eradication of the disease within the country. As of August 2016, Nigeria had no reported case of Polio. Nigeria is one of three countries in the world with endemic wild poliovirus. Nigeria also has cases of Vaccine-derived polio. The only other countries are Afghanistan and Pakistan
Measles is another disease that has aggressively targeted by UNICEF, especially in Northern Nigeria. There was a campaign in 2017 to vaccinate up to 4.7million Children in the terrorist ravaged North-Eastern states in order to combat the disease as there were up to 25,000 reported cases in 2016.
“Immunization is one of the most powerful and most cost-effective health interventions,” said Representative Fall, the UNICEF Nigeria representative. But despite growing numbers and a general reduction of deaths of under-5-year-old children from 158 to 120 per 1000 births, the struggle is far from being won.
With the rest of the world, PPC Nigeria recognizes the problems that arise from poor immunization practises. The child mortality rates and money spent on treating diseases or lost from loss of production from caregivers occupied with treating sick kids can be greatly reduced.
In most cases, it takes just one unvaccinated child to start an epidemic of terrible proportions. Remember, Vaccines Work and spread the word to all around you. Let us make the world a safer place for our children.