More than 3 million Nigerian children are yet to be fully immunised, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said.
He said this at the launch of the Integrated Medical Outreach Programme (I-MOP) in Abuja on Tuesday.
I-MOP is a nationwide strategic approach by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to rapidly improve immunization outputs and strengthen Primary Health Care.
It is a programme for the unreached, underserved and vulnerable communities in 409 selected LGA in the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The first round of the I-MOP implementation is planned for March 23 -27, the second round is planned for April 20-24 and the third round will take place from June 1-5.
Speaking at the flag-off, Mr Ehanire said the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) revealed that only 33 per cent of Nigerian children had received three full doses of the benchmark Penta-3 vaccine.
Due to this high number of unimmunised children, he said, a state of public health concern on routine immunisation was declared in June 2017.
“The National Emergency Coordination Centre (NERIC) was been set up to work with states and partners to use innovative approaches to scale up immunization coverage.
“This was to protect the large population of unimmunised children,” he said.
He said I-MOP is a product of that scale-up.
Mr Ehanire said though the country’s immunisation programme is beginning to show significant signs of improvement since the initiative, more work needs to be done.
“The 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) shows improved immunisation performance from 38 per cent in 2013 to 50.4 percent in 2018.
“Despite this improvement in coverage, more than three million Nigerian children are yet to be fully immunised,” he said.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib said the implementation of I-MOP is an opportunity for government to fulfill its promise of delivering the dividends of democracy, justice, and equity to all Nigerians.
He said despite closing obvious gaps in Immunisation and Primary Health Care delivery, the country still has work to do.
“We still have a long way to go if we are to achieve our vision and aspirations for a country where basic but quality health services would be accessible and affordable.
“While we continue to make progress towards strengthening the health system, opportunities like the Integrated Medical Outreach Programme provide unique platforms for the health system to bridge gaps and make sure no one is left behind in the journey towards Universal Health Coverage,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the flag-off of the I-MOP is an important development because it does not just take care of Primary Healthcare (PHC) but tends to be specific.
Represented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases, Chukwuka Utazi, he said, I-MOP focuses on immunization, treatment of minor ailments, counseling services and health talks on non-communicable diseases.
“Adequate healthcare for all is not for the privileged class alone; those in the rural areas deserve care as well.
“I am glad that you have launched this programme to reach them and to assure them that the government cares,” he said.
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