Nigeria Launches Penta Vaccine

With a view to improving child health, the Nigerian government has introduced pentavalent vaccine into her routine immunization schedule. Pentavalent vaccine is a combination of five vaccines-in-one that prevents diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis b and haemophilus influenza type b, all through a single dose.

With this introduction, nearly 400,000 cases of haemophilus influenza type B would be prevented with about 27,000 lives saved annually in Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch of the vaccine in Eneka Primary Health Centre in Rivers state recently, the Executive Director National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad said that the Federal Government had spent over one billion naira in the last two years to expand the nation’s cold chain infrastructure at all levels in preparation for the new vaccine introduction.

“Similarly, over ten million doses of the pentavalent vaccines”, he added, “had been paid for by the Federal Government for distribution to thirteen states and FCT which he said were parts of the country’s effort in implementing the first phase of the pentavalent vaccine immunization.” The states in the first phase of the introduction are Jigawa, Kaduna, Adamawa, Bau-chi, Kwara and FCT. Others are Plateau, Enugu, Anambra, Rivers, Edo, Akwa-Ibom, Ekiti and Lagos States. The remaining parts of the country, he assured would be covered in the next few months.

The Executive Director disclosed that seventeen thousand health workers have been trained to administer the pentavalent vaccine in over eight thousand health facilities.

In a remark at the occasion, the WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. David Okello represented by Dr. Patricia Tanifum congratulated Nigeria for the introduction of the pentavalent vaccine. He observed that child mortality is still high in Nigeria though some progress has been made. “According to the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2008, infant mortality declined from 100 per 1000 live births, to 75 per 1000 live births from 2003 – 2008.”

Dr. Okello noted that pneumonia is one of the major killer diseases in infancy and it is responsible for 17% of all under-five deaths; therefore, pneumonia control is one of the priorities for Nigeria to meet MDG4 goals. Penta prevents pneumonia in children. Hence, the introduction of pentavalent vaccine into the routine immunization schedule for Nigeria is not only imperative but a step in the right direction.

In his speech at the launch, Rivers sate Governor, Dr. Rotimi Amaechi said his administration had introduced free universal health care for all in the state because to drive home his commitment to healthy citizenry.

The Governor also disclosed that every person living and working in Rivers State was entitled to free medical care.

Amaechi who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tamunoiyriari Parker, also announced a special programme where pregnant women attending antenatal would be supported on each antenatal visit with some cash incentives.

Speaking at the occasion, Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Gyang Dantong assured Nigerians of the Senate Commitment to scale up its oversight functions to ensure maximum benefits of funds allocated for health of Nigeria children in particular and the populace in general.

Dr. Dantong urged Nigerians to donate generously towards vaccine for immunization and advocated thorough immunization of all Nigerian children.

Also speaking, programme Manager, Global Alliance for vaccine immunization, Geneva; Dr. Par Eriksson emphasized the need for health worker and all stakeholders to ensure that every Nigerian child is vaccinated.