The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim
By Paul Obi in Abuja
The Federal Government yesterday in Abuja cried out that an estimated 1 million children die annually in Nigeria as a result of false rumours and religious beliefs concerning vaccination.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, stated this at the first National Vaccine Summit. He urged all the stakeholders to do everything possible to dispel such rumours and educate the people on the benefit of vaccination.
According to Anyim, “It is indeed inexcusable that despite the availability of simple cost-effective health measures such as vaccines, we continue to lose an estimated 1 million Nigerian children each year to diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination.
“To reverse this trend, it is essential that we all join hands: government at all levels, the private sector, NGOs, development partners, traditional and religious, etc to educate our people on the benefits of vaccination, dispel false rumours and beliefs, mobilise the necessary resources for vaccination and monitor the entire process of vaccination.” The SGF also attributed the frequent scarcity of vaccines in the country to the increasing childbirths in Nigeria, which are always higher than projections made for
“However, I am aware that with Nigerians expanding population and increase in births, it is inevitable that there would be gaps, both in terms of vaccine availability and the necessary logistics and materials that would guarantee every eligible Nigerian child access to vaccines as at when due.”
“As you deliberate today, to find common grounds and evolve strategies that would assure universal access to vaccines by all Nigerians Children, you must bear in mind the need to look inwards and find sustainable local solutions to our problems.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammed Pate, said everything must be done to reverse the situation where one out of seven children dies before the age of five years as the trend would make it difficult for Nigeria to achieve Vision 20:2020.
The government, which allocated N6 billion for procurement of vaccines for year 2012, according to him, is fully committed to expansion of life-saving vaccines for all Nigerian children with the revision of National Immunization Policy in 2009 accommodating new vaccines.
To also improve the survival of children, he said the Federal Government is expanding Midwifery Service Scheme to cover 1,500 rural primary health centres with midwifes and community health workers.
“Saving mothers will enhance the survival of children, so we are expanding the already successful midwifery service scheme to cover 1500 rural primary health centres. Federal government is planning to recruit thousands of village health workers in a temporary workfare scheme to support mothers during ANC and delivery,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad, said that the overall objective of the summit is to mobilize both the public and private sectors as advocates and also commit themselves to the immunization of women and children against vaccine preventable diseases.
Muhammad maintained that “Specifically, we intent to articulate a national consensus statement and call to action for the achievement of universal vaccine coverage for all Nigerian children by the year 2015, as part of our overall efforts to achieve millennium development goal 4.”
“Raise pledges of commitments and action from Nigerian leaders across the political, business, traditional and religious spectrum for vaccines and immunization. Establish action plans and accountability framework to ensure that the resolutions and commitments made at the Summit are fulfilled,” he added.