The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), on Monday, launched the Zero Dose Learning Hub (ZDLH) as part of its effort to increase immunisation coverage in the country.
Speaking at the launch in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, the Executive Director of NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, said the hub would provide a framework for the country to promptly generate evidence strategies.
Mr Shuaib said these strategies can be leveraged to successfully identify, measure, monitor and reach zero-dose children and missed communities in which they live.
“This hub embodies our shared vision of a world where every child receives the vaccines they need to thrive,” he said.
“It is a symbol of our commitment to equity, to inclusivity, and to leaving no one behind.”
Mr Shuaib said the hub is not just a platform but a beacon of possibility and a testament to the agency’s dedication to reaching every child.
He said the hub represents a promise that no child will be left behind, no matter their circumstances or where they are born.
He said: “Behind every “zero dose” child lies a story, a story of potential, of dreams, and of the bright future they deserve. Today, we take a bold step towards making those dreams a reality.
“Our aspiration is that this hub will offer an extensive platform for all individuals engaged in the administration of immunisation services at both national and sub-national levels.”
The initiative is being implemented by the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), working as a consortium with the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN ), with support from Gavi through the NPHCDA.
Mr Shuaib said in 2017, Nigeria took a significant step by declaring an emergency concerning routine immunisation. He said this is in response to the alarming findings of the 2016 Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), which revealed a distressing Penta 3 coverage rate of only 33 per cent.
He said the National Emergency Routine Immunisation Coordination Centre (NERICC) was established to lead the country in its efforts to improve immunisation coverage.
“Since the inception of NERICC, the transformation has been remarkable, reflecting substantial improvements in immunisation coverage throughout the country,” he said.
“This positive shift is underscored by the 2021 NICS report, which now indicates a notable increase, with Penta 3 coverage standing at 57 per cent.”
He said although the country is yet to attain its designated goal, It has made great improvements.
Mr Shuaib said there are a multitude of challenges and obstacles that have hindered the country’s efforts to establish an effective routine immunisation system.
He said these challenges include the scarcity of human resources, suboptimal capacity, insufficient funding, inadequate drugs and commodities and others.
“Consequently, a significant portion of our eligible population, particularly children, remains susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases, often referred to as “zero dose” individuals.”
He said the government has implemented a range of strategic interventions to address these challenges and obstacles.
“These initiatives include Optimised Outreach Sessions (OOS), Optimised Integrated Routine Immunisation Sessions (OIRIS), Routine Immunisation Intensification, Quarterly Lot Quality Assurance Survey (LQAS) to access their progress, and other strategies that are gradually yielding positive outcomes.”
In his remarks, the Regional Technical Coordinator, AFENET, Patrick Nguku, noted that Nigeria is leading the list of countries with the highest number of zero-dose children globally
Mr Nguku said the hub is an innovative approach to advance the uptake of research and evidence to improve immunisation policies and programming in the country.
“Nigeria so far is the fourth country to implement the zero dose hub joining the likes of Mali, Uganda and Bangladesh,” he said.
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