The federal government on Thursday began a mass vaccination campaign to prevent the spread of yellow fever in the country.
The vaccination kicked off in three states, Kogi, Kwara and Zamfara states and is expected to move to Borno state where the campaign would focus on the camps for internally displaced persons and surrounding host communities.
More than 8.6 million people are expected to be vaccinated in these four states.
The preventive vaccination campaign is said to be the largest yellow fever vaccination drive in the history of Nigeria and it targets 25 million Nigerians.
The World Health Organisation, (WHO) has already pledged a donation of 20 million doses of the vaccine annually for the next nine years.
Executive Director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib said the goal of the Yellow Fever Preventive Mass Vaccination Campaign is to reduce yellow fever transmission by achieving 90 per cent coverage in implementing states and local government areas in line with the strategy for the Elimination of Yellow fever Epidemics by 2026.
“The goal of the ongoing immunisation campaign is part of the efforts to eliminate yellow fever epidemics globally by 2026,” he said.
NPHCDA, on its twitter handle urged parents and caregivers to ensure that their children get vaccinated as they have a role to play.
WHO is also supporting the vaccine drive by training thousands of healthcare workers on how to administer the vaccine, helping to track cases of yellow fever and providing coordination and logistical support for the operation.
WHO Representative in Nigeria, Wondimagegnehu Alemu said with a single dose of vaccine, an individual is protected for life against yellow fever.
“This is a massive undertaking which took weeks of planning. Nearly 3000 vaccination teams are being deployed across the four states participating in the campaign,” he added.
The campaign is coming months after the resurgence of the disease across some states in the country.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in its first epidemiological week 2018, the ailment has so far been confirmed in 12 local government across seven state.
As at this month, a total of 358 suspected cases had been reported in 16 states, with 45 deaths.
The states reported with suspected cases are Abia, Borno, Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi, Plateau, Zamfara, Enugu, Oyo, Anambra, Edo, Lagos, Kano, Nasarawa, Katsina and Niger.
The first case was detected and confirmed at Ifelodun Local Government in Kwara state in a seven-year-old girl in September 2017.
The girl had no previous history of yellow fever vaccination and had not travelled outside her state two years before the illness.
Other states where the cases have been also confirmed are Kano, Niger, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Kogi and Zamfara.
NCDC report also said the predominant age group affected are 20 years and below, accounting for 67. 8 per cent and the male to female ratio was 1.6 to 1.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly has assured Nigerians and members of the International community of its overall commitment to ensure adequate budgetary allocation for procurement of vaccines and effective immunisation of Nigerian children.
The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Health, Muhammad Usman gave the assurance today at the ongoing two-day retreat on Nigeria Strategy for Immunisation and PHC Strengthening.
Mr. Muhammad said the lawmakers are concluding effective legislations to guarantee adequate funds for vaccine procurement, immunisation services and PHC in general, beginning from 2018 financial year.
The lawmaker assured Nigeria, the donors and development partners of the ”personal commitment of both the Senate President, Bukola Salaki and the Speaker of the House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara to ensuring budgetary allocation and timely release of required funds for immunisation and PHC services.
He also commended the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunisation, other donors and development partners and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency boss, Faisal Shuaib for, ”his dynamic leadership at effectively driving the national PHC agenda.
In his remarks, Mr. Shuaib said the retreat was aimed at reaching a ”common alignment and understanding between the Government, Partners, Donors and the Development Partners.”