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2.2 Million Children in Nigeria not Immunised – UNICEF

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UNICEF says at least 2.2 million Nigerian children did not receive a single dose of vaccine between 2019 and 2021.

It says also that globally, 67 million children missed out on routine immunisation between 2019 and 2022 as 48 million of them did not receive a single routine vaccine.

“A total of 67 million children missed out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021 with vaccination coverage levels decreasing in 112 countries.

“Children born just before or during the COVID-19 pandemic are now moving past the age when they would normally be vaccinated.

“This underscores the need for urgent action to catch up on those who were missed to prevent deadly disease outbreaks,” Chief of Health in Nigeria (UNICEF), Dr Eduardo Celades, said in Abuja on Thursday.

He told newsmen that Nigeria trailed behind India in the number of children not immunised during the period.

He noted that the number of Nigerian children not immunised remained high in spite of efforts made by the country.

Celades noted also that the number of measles cases recorded in Nigeria in 2022 was more than double the total recorded in 2021.

“As at the end of 2021, India and Nigeria (countries with very large birth cohorts) had the largest numbers of unimmunised children, with Nigeria having two million children unimmunised,’’ he said.

He stressed that Nigeria is currently nowhere near the global vaccination goal because of challenges encountered in immunisation programmes.

“Challenges such as distrust in government, poor cold-chain management, and poor communication during the onset of vaccination programmes all contributed to the inability to attain set goals.

“The major causes of low immunisation rates are fear of side reactions, lack of knowledge or information, service delivery issues, mistrust or fears, and distance to immunisation sites, among others,’’ Celades said.

He stressed that the benefits of immunisation could only be fully realised when children received all recommended doses of vaccines promptly.

He noted that even in states with well-performing immunisation programmes; there were pockets of unreached or hard-to-reach populations for whom special efforts were needed.

Celades also told newsmen that strengthening routine immunisation and services were critical to achieving high coverage and reaching national and community disease-eliminating targets in Nigeria.

To be fully immunised, children under five years of age are expected to receive BCG, a vaccine against tuberculosis; Oral Polio vaccine, DPT vaccine – a combination of vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.

They are also expected to receive Hepatitis A and B vaccines; Measles vaccine; Yellow fever vaccine and supplemental vitamin A.

The BCG vaccine is given at birth or as soon as possible after birth; the Oral Polio Vaccine is also given at birth and at six, 10, and 14 weeks of age.

The DPT vaccine is given at six weeks, 10, and 14 weeks of age; the     Hepatitis B vaccine is given at birth and at six weeks and 14 weeks of age, while the Measles vaccine is given at nine months of age. (NAN)

Health

Over 180,000 HIV Patients Accessing Free Life-saving Antiretroviral Treatment in Benue – Gov. Alia

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi 

Benue State Governor, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Alia, on Tuesday, said that over 180,000 people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV), are accessing life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART) across 264 public, private, and faith-based health facilities in the 23 local government areas of the state.

He noted that women living with HIV has giving birth to about 8,000 HIV-negative babies annually through the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program for pregnant-positive women in the state.

 

Governor Alia who disclosed this while commissioning molecular laboratory at the federal medical centre Makurdi, said this was made possible by the support of US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

 

He lamented that the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), 2018, shown Benue State has an HIV prevalence of 4.3%, the second-highest in Nigeria thereby placing Benue on the path to HIV epidemic control.

The Governor noted that in the past two decades, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), Nigeria has supported the Benue state government with funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through APIN Public Health Initiatives and other implementing partners to respond to the HIV epidemic. 

According to him, “the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program for pregnant-positive women in the state has made it possible for the birth of about 8,000 HIV-negative babies annually by women living with HIV providing a window of hope for an HIV-free generation. 

“This strong partnership between the government and PEPFAR has turned the tide against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the state. HIV/AIDS which was before now a major cause of death with significant socioeconomic impacts in communities has been transformed into a managed chronic disease with Benue at the threshold of meeting the global target of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. 

“The program deployed and installed information technology equipment to capacitate 65 high-volume treatment sites, 22 supported community-based organizations, the state Ministry of Health, and the State Agency for HIV/AIDS Control to participate in weekly telemedicine/teleconferencing led by the Federal Ministry of Health to improve the skills of healthcare providers to manage a range of chronic medical conditions including HIV/AIDS”, the Governor stated.

Governor Alia commended APIN Public Health Initiatives, US CDC, PEPFAR and all partners involved in bringing this project to fruition and appreciated the past and present leadership of the Federal Medical Center, Makurdi for providing the infrastructure for the placement of molecular laboratory equipment. 

He assured that his administration remain committed to leaving no one behind in the pursuit of health equity and justice and would continuously harness the power of science, innovation and compassion to build a brighter tomorrow for generations to come. 

Governor Alia further reiterated his government’s commitment to sustaining the HIV response in the state through the financing of the HIV response, public health infrastructural development and support for PLWHIV, Children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV and other vulnerable populations for improved quality of life.

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Radda Releases N10bn to 34 LGAs for Health Centres

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Katsina State Governor, Dikko Radda has released over N10 billion to chairmen of the 34 local government areas of the state to build primary health centres.

The governor said this during an interactive session with journalists on Monday in Katsina, saying that three primary health centres would be constructed in each council area.

He added that “when I became the governor, I talked about the World Health Organisation’s resolution on the need to have functional primary health centres in rural areas that can work 24 hours.

“The aim is to reduce child and maternal mortality and other difficulties faced by rural people whenever they are sick.

“If we have functional healthcare facilities in rural areas, even a woman in labour can be attended to by a professional health worker at any time.

“And if there is a need to take her to a secondary healthcare facility, the centre should have an ambulance that can convey her there.”

According to him, there should also be accommodation for health workers, enough drugs, constant/potable water, and electricity supply, among others.

Radda revealed that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would provide those institutions with running costs, from N250,000 to N400,000.

“This fund is enough for the running of daily activities of the centres. But we cannot benefit from the fund until we have fully functional healthcare centres.

“If we have functional primary health centres in rural areas, it will assist in decongesting hospitals in urban areas, and the health level of the people will improve.

“The only challenge we are going to face is staffing, because we have shortages of staff to man these centres. To recruit health workers is not easy now, but we will do that in due course.

“However, we have over 5,000 casual staff and if we were to confirm them, their salaries would double that of the over 7,000 teachers recently recruited.

“This is because the salary of some health workers is almost triple that of teachers.

“That’s the challenge now, but in spite of that, we will recruit health workers in due course.

“Before the end of the year, we’ll make sure that no fewer than 361 functional primary health care centres are provided in the state.”

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FCTA Begins Free Antenatal Registration, Care for Pregnant Women

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

In continuation of the one year anniversary celebration of President Bola Tinubu, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), on Monday, unveiled one year free health insurance, antenatal care for pregnant Women.

This initiative was unveiled by the Mandate Secretary, FCTA’s Health Services and Environment Secretariat, Dr Adedolapo Fasawe when she visited the Paramount Ruler, the Gomo of Kuje, Alhaji Haruna Jibrin.

Fasawe disclosed that the initiative, coming as Renewed Hope Free Medical Outreach, was designed for the poorest of the poor in rural communities.

The Mandate Secretary, who was in the Palace of the Paramount Ruler and the Council’s Secretariat to sensitize the people for the outreach billed for Wednesday, warned that privileged people shouldn’t hijack the outreach, but allow the vulnerable residents to benefit from the initiative.

She noted that besides giving pregnant women one year insurance, there will also be free eye, dental and other health services, while also providing minor surgery for the people.

Fasawe also warned that the administration would not allow advantaged people to hijack the free services, saying it is exclusively for the less privileged people.

She said, “We are going to be giving free medical care, eye care, minor surgery and dental care.

“Pregnant women and the children will get free insurance for one year. Let not the privileged people deny the less privileged people.

“Let those who can afford the care allow the poor to get free care. We don’t want chairman’s candidates, we want the poorest of the poor. Register all pregnant women for free antenatal”.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Secretariat, Dr Babagana Adams has called on the council officials to mobilize the people who need the services to come out in mass.

Adams, also did not caution that there should not be ethnic nor religious discrimination as the initiative was designed to serve all.

Earlier in his remarks, the Gomo of Kuje, Alhaji Haruna Jibrin, while lauding the initiative also pledged to support the outreach.

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