Abuja, 12 September 2017-As part of preparations towards a high quality exercise, a press briefing heralding the implementation of a national measles campaign in Nigeria was conducted on 11 September 2017 at the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) Headquarters in Abuja to ensure that every eligible child is reached to mitigate the disease burden.
Nigeria along with other countries in the African region has embarked on a goal of measles elimination. However, in 2016 alone, Nigeria witnessed 183 measles outbreaks affecting 158 local government areas (LGAs).
Addressing over 40 media practitioners, the Executive Director (ED) of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib pledged that the upcoming measles vaccination campaign will be the best ever implemented by the country. To achieve set targets, he solicited the cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders, particularly journalists and communities to ensure the success of the campaign towards the reduction of child deaths arising from measles and other vaccine preventable childhood diseases.
Dr Shuaib confirmed that the Federal Government of Nigeria has already released counterpart funding to the tune of 3.2 billion Naira for the activities and called on State Governments to ensure timely release and disbursement of counterpart funds.
The 2017-2018 vaccination campaign is planned to be conducted in phases by geographical zones from October 2017 to March 2018.
Speaking on behalf of development partners at the briefing, World Health Organization Country Representative (WR) to Nigeria Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, commended journalists for always creating awareness on public health interventions but regretted that “continued measles outbreaks in Nigeria pose real challenges to the elimination efforts put in place by the country”.
Available statistics according to the WR show that routine immunization coverage has not reached optimal levels at sub national level; and past campaigns did not achieve the desired 95% coverage.
“As efforts build up to address routine immunization gaps, an equally intensive effort will be needed to ensure that the 2nd opportunity through the upcoming campaign reaches all eligible children. Several lessons have been learned from past campaigns and great capacity exists in-country to reach the target,” Dr Alemu said.
He appreciated the Government of Nigeria for taking a leadership role in spearheading what promises to be a high quality exercise. The WR further stated that the additional financial support from GAVI and strong partnership with other stakeholders will pave way for a quality campaign.
Both the WR and the ED appealed to parents and caretakers to present their children to benefit from the vaccination campaign. They also requested states and LGAs to provide the necessary resources and oversight to achieve at least 95% coverage in all LGAs.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that still leads to significant number of deaths among children in developing countries where close to 75% of measles cases may have one or more complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, otitis media, laryngo-tracheo-bronchitis (croup), blindness or encephalitis, particularly in malnourished children.
The press briefing was the first in a series of other enlightenment activities planned to mobilize the public on the forthcoming vaccination campaign.
Dr Fiona Braka; Tel: +234 703 1705 252 ; Email: brakaf [at] who.int