United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised the alarm that 2.2 million Nigerian children representing 30 percent of the entire children population in the country are missing out on immunization.
The UNICEF Nigeria Chief of Health, Dr. Eduardo Celades at a media briefing on the state of the world children (SOWC) report in Abuja, said it was sad that Nigeria had such large size of children missing out on all forms of vaccination.
He said: “2.2 million children in Nigeria missed out on immunization, representing 30 percent.”
He disclosed that some of the factors responsible for this included non-availability of adequate human resources, accessibility to a large expanse of land, insisting that quality leadership was key to getting these challenges solved.
He said despite these challenges, many children had continued to be immunized in the country, noting that over 15,000 additional community health workers have been trained in recent times.
Celades also disclosed that over 1,700 Primary Health Care facilities (out of 3,476) in 14 States meet PHC minimum standards, adding that 25 health facilities have functional level 2 newborn units.
He said there exist several state-level and national capacities built to prepare and respond to public health emergencies.
He said over the past five years, one major accomplishment has been the increase in Penta-3 vaccinations, administered to children under one year to protect them from five life-threatening diseases.
He disclosed that Penta-3 coverage rise from 33 percent to 57 percent, reaching 7.9 million children, noting that another major success was the 84 percent decrease in cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 in 2022, stating that despite an outbreak of the disease, the number of children vaccinated against polio tripled to 58 million thanks to joint efforts with partners.
He said in keeping with UNICEF’s global nutrition strategy, the emphasis has shifted from the treatment of malnutrition to its prevention, explaining that Vitamin A supplementation is one key preventive intervention that promotes child development and lowers the risk of cognitive delays and child mortality due to malnutrition.
He disclosed that for the first time in five years, two rounds of Vitamin A supplementation were successfully completed in Nigeria in 2022, noting that 35 million children received one dose and 23 million children received two doses of Vitamin A, constituting a massive increase from the 9.8 million reached with one round of Vitamin A supplementation in 2021.