WHO salutes Nigeria’s commitment to routine measles immunization despite COVID-19 challenges
London, May 16, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The World Health Organisation has praised Nigerian government for its commitment to routine measles immunization despite the challenges posed by the ravaging coronavirus pandemic
In a statement. World Health Organisation says currently routine immunization is ongoing in all 36 Nigerian states.
Mairo Mohammed, a nurse who administers vaccines at Hasiya Bayero Paediatric Hospital, said there has been a marked improvement in turnout compared to the beginning of the pandemic.
“Initially, we had the challenge of low turnout from both health workers and caregivers who were scared to come to health facilities for fear of infection,” she said. “But now they have been made aware that immunization activities are still going on as usual, and they also better understand the measures they can take to protect themselves.”
At the Hasiya Bayero Paediatric Hospital in downtown Kano, the commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria, Aisha Iliasu who spoke to WHO observers was among other women and children who dspite the lockdown in place in the city, has come to the hospital for a routine measles vaccination for her nine-month old son.
“I do not want him to miss the vaccine. He has taken all the doses so far, and this is the final one,” she says. “I was initially sceptical about coming to the facility as I thought the health workers would not be around, but all the nurses are here and attending to the children as usual.”
Every year, millions of lives are saved due to routine immunization, which is widely recognized as a one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions. However, in Nigeria, over three million children under one year are still either unvaccinated or under-vaccinated.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new obstacles to vaccination in the country as well as to the surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases across much of Africa. As the continent responds to the novel coronavirus, there is a significant risk that more children will miss out on life-saving vaccines that can prevent diseases like measles and polio.
During World Vaccination Week at the end of April, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, reiterated the importance of continuing to “protect communities from vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks during this unprecedented time,” urging African countries to take innovate approaches to maintain routine immunization services and to implement strong infection prevention and control practices in all health facilities.
WHO has developed new guidelines on immunization in the context of COVID-19 that stress the need for this dynamic approach and urge countries to prioritize the continuation of routine immunization of children and other at-risk groups