Niger State recorded an outbreak of measles in 13 local government areas of the state during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The Director of Immunisation and Diseases Control, Fatima Abdullah, disclosed this during a one-day media orientation on measles immunisation awareness on Friday in Minna, the state capital.
The event was organised by the Niger State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NSPHCDA) in partnership with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
She explained that during the lockdown, many caregivers did not take their children to health facilities for routine immunisation, which she attributed to the fear of contracting the virus.
“Even though the health facilities were opened for 24 hours services, many parents failed to take their children for routine immunisation because they were afraid of contracting Coronavirus.
“All services such as routine immunisation, antenatal and family planning were available to serve everyone, but most mothers failed to access the service during the lockdown,” she said.
Mrs Abdullah solicited the support of the media in creating awareness on the need for mothers to take their children to health facilities within their ward for immunisation while observing the COVID-19 containment regulations.
In his presentation, Ahmed Abdulsalam, Programme Manager, State Emergency Routine Immunisation Coordination, disclosed that there were records of measles in 13 local government areas.
He said the local government areas are Bida, Bosso, Chanchaga, Munya, Kontagora, Mariga, Mashegu, Rafi, Gbako, Shiroro, Tafa, Suleja, Lavun, adding that Bosso, Munya and Suleja have high records of outbreaks within the last one month.
“We are yet to record any death, but we have records of outbreaks of measles in the state,” he said.
According to him, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic affected routine immunisation globally, thereby leading to outbreaks of measles and other diseases.
He said the state would embark on sensitisation on routine immunisation and its importance.
He disclosed that over two million children under five years had died from measles globally and about 97 per cent of death occurred in undeveloped countries.
Teni Sheru, UNICEF State Lead, advised mothers and pregnant women not to allow COVID-19 serve as hindrance to them from accessing routine immunisation.
“For a while now, the state has recorded an outbreak of measles because of failure of parents to take them for routine immunisation especially during the lockdown. These vaccines prevent children from contracting diseases,” she said.
Also, Samuel Jiya, Deputy Director Immunisation, NSPHCDA, said over 1,500 health facilities across the state were offering free and safe routine immunisation.
Mr Jiya urged all mothers and pregnant women to visit the facilities to access the services.
“We must take measles and immunisation seriously to avoid the death of millions of children. We are calling on the media to support our campaign to eliminate measles and other killer diseases,” he said.