Nigeria, 20 April 2018 – The African Vaccination Week (AVW) is an annual event celebrated during the last week of April. It is an initiative of governments in the African region that was initiated in 2010. It is celebrated in synchronization with other WHO Regions and the World Immunization Week (WIW).The aim of AVW is to strengthen immunization programmes in the African region by raising awareness on the need and right of every person (particularly every child and woman) to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
A breakfast meeting with development partners, private sector, business community and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) was organized by National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to celebrate AVW this year. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Vaccines work, Do your part!” and for Nigeria, the theme is “Vaccines work, Be an immunization champion”. The themes collectively highlight the actions needed to be taken to ensure that every person is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. It also urges greater action on immunization across the African Region, with a particular focus on spotlighting the role that everyone can play in this effort, from donors to individuals.
The Executive Director/CEO NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib in his speech during the breakfast meeting to commemorate AVW said Nigeria’s national immunization coverage stands at 33%. He also mentioned that as part of the celebration, next week NPHCDA staff will be visiting states with low performance and high number of unimmunized to roll out routine immunization sessions. This is in a bid to close the huge gap. He also revealed that there are plans underway for state and local governments to own routine immunization in order to ensure that children in their wards get vaccinated.
Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu the Country Representative of World Health Organization(WHO) in his goodwill message on behalf of development partners called on government, parliamentarians, CSOs, private sector, communities and all families to break down the barriers to immunization and ensure all Nigerian children get the shot to life that they deserve. He reiterated the commitment of WHO and partners to work with the government in ensuring universal immunization coverage.
Also present at the celebration was the Honourable Minister of State for Health Dr Osagie Ehanire. He revealed that within the next 10 years Nigeria has to be prepared to create a roadmap to be able to pay for its own routine immunization as it is an integral part of primary healthcare. He called on all partners to contribute to this conversation and be on the same page with the Federal Ministry of Health through the NPHCDA.
In her closing remarks, Dr Fiona Braka, WHO Expanded Programme on Immunization Team lead and co-chair of the 2018 African Vaccination Week revealed that over the next few years Nigeria needs to raise $2.7 billion for immunization programmes. She closed by saying we owe it to every child in Nigeria to give them a good start to life.