The incidence of measles among children under the age of five increased more than two-fold in the northern part of Nigeria between 2014 and 2016, a survey has revealed.
This was revealed just as UNICEF said the country has the highest number of children in the world not immunised with the first dose of measles vaccine.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said a surveillance data shows that measles incidence among children under five years increased in the northern part of Nigeria from 190 million in 2014 to 527 million in 2016.
He disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at a one-day media orientation forum for the 2017/17 Measles Vaccination Campaign.
Speaking at the event, a UNICEF official, Margaret Adaba, said Nigeria has over 3.3 million of such children, followed by India with 2.9 million.
She said that Nigeria needs to work on creating more awareness on measles vaccination.
Mr. Shuaib acknowledged the country’s challenge with measles and said the federal government plans to mitigate this through a nationwide measles vaccination campaign.
He noted that Nigeria still accounts significantly for the global measles burden, despite the successes achieved in the reduction of measles-related morbidity and mortality.
Mr. Shuaib said that the Measles Vaccination Campaign aims to reach 33 million eligible children in Nigeria.
He said that though the agency was able to reach 85 per cent of children in 2015, this year’s campaign must cover at least 95 per cent of children eligible for the vaccine.
Noting that the federal government has released about N3.5 billion in support of the campaign, Mr. Shuaib urged state governments to release their counterpart funds.
The nationwide Measles Vaccination Campaign will commence in the last quarter of 2017 and will focus on children between the ages of nine and 59 months.