GAVI: Nigeria Has Highest Number of Under-immunised Children Globally

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• FG inaugurates c’ttee on implementation of National Integrated Infrastructure Masterplan

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
Nigeria has the highest number of under-immunised children in the world, displacing India with over one billion population which hitherto occupied the rather uninspiring spot, according to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI).

GAVI is chaired by the former Coordinating Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The Chief Executive Officer of GAVI, Dr. Seth Berkley, who disclosed Nigeria’s status Tuesday, said India previously maintained the unenviable position of having the highest number under-immunised children three years ago.
He spoke during a meeting with the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, in Abuja

“India, over the last three years, improved its coverage dramatically and now Nigeria has that unenviable position,” he said, and pledged GAVI’s assistance to work with Nigeria to turn things around.

The meeting which also had in attendance the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Finance , Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, essentially centred around ways to improve immunisation access to Nigeria children.

The GAVI boss estimated routine immunisation coverage rate in Nigeria to be around 50 per cent, describing it as unflattering.
“This means that if we don’t improve on that, it’s going to be 700,000 Nigerian children that are going to die if we don’t improve in next five years. This can be prevented by simple immunisation.

“We would like to fix it and move forward in a way that is sustainable. This is a critical way to continue to avoid polio and polio programme is done through campaign. Hopefully, polio will be completely eliminated here in Nigeria but there has to be a sustained coverage to make sure it doesn’t come back. To do that is to have high routine immunisation. So in this meeting we would be discussing yellow fever, missiles, meningitis and strong relationship will be cultivated.

“You have five years transition out of GAVI support. It is very important to see a strong commitment. The board of GAVI understands the challenge that exists in Nigeria because of low coverage rate and is willing to consider some slight changes in policy for Nigeria. But that is going to be dependent on having a plan in place; a finance that is sustainable and good working relationship.

“Nigeria has had high coverage in the past and this is something that is doable, and I hope this becomes a priority, and it becomes a priority, we will celebrate together. You may not be able to have health facility in every local government area but you can immunise your people, I have no doubt about that,” Seith said.

Seth, who recalled that his organisation and Nigeria had enjoyed cordial working relationship in the past , said a break occurred midway in the relationship.

“We have a very long and important partnership with Nigeria. It’s being characterised with more than $1billion commitment but also, there is a working relationship. There was actually a break over the last few years in the relationship but we are now in the process of trying to repair. It’s important to do that because vaccine is critical.

“For every dollar that is spent on vaccine, we get benefit of $44 in return compare to infrastructure projects where we see one to three , or one to four return. In terms of investment in health, this is single largest component one can do

“Unfortunately, Nigeria is not performing at the level of its peers. It’s disappointing knowing the incredible, the science that exists here . The coverage rate in Nigeria is estimated around 50 per cent for routine immunisation. This means, if we don’t improve on that, it’s going to be 700,000 Nigerian children that are going to die if we don’t improve in next five years. This can be prevented by simple immunisation,” he stressed.

Earlier in his remarks, Adewole recalled the assistance the country had benefited from the global agency
“GAVI has done so much, for this country and at the last count we have crossed $1 billion support with respect to GAVI support over the years. It’s quite huge. The support from GAVI has actually taken bulk of load off Nigeria.

“Many of us do not even know how these vaccines get to our children but then while doing this, GAVI does not only support vaccines supply, it supports health systems strengthening because for us to deploy vaccines it can only be done properly within the context of health system and the support from GAVI is so crucial,” the minister said.
Identifying funding as the biggest challenge, the minister expressed the hope that the 2017 budget recently signed into law will address the challenge.

Commenting. Udoma conveyed government,’s appreciation for GAVI’s support in the area of immunisation.
Meanwhile, the federal government has inaugurated a technical working group (TWG) for the development of the first operational plan to implement the National Integrated Infrastructure Masterplan (NIIMP).
The committee was inaugurated by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Fatima Mede, in Abuja.

The TWG, with membership drawn from the relevant agencies of government, academia and private sector is to work on the first operational plan which is expected to cover the 2017 to 2020 fiscal periods.
An investment requirement of $3 trillion is required between 2014 and 2043 is needed to cover energy, transport, Information and Communications based on the NIIMP template.

Mede, while inaugurating the TWG_ noted that as a long term plan, the NIIMP would be implemented under a five-year operational plan that would allow for periodic review would enable the government to translate strategic goals to objectives and align priorities with the recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)

Her words: “The first operational plan, which is to cover the period 2017-2020, will serve as capital allocation framework across sectors for annual budgeting. It will therefore identify priority infrastructure projects of ministries, departments and agencies that will have catalytic effect on economic growth of the nation and elaborate on enablers for implementation.”

The terms of reference of the committee, the permanent secretary said, include carrying out a comprehensive review of the sectors, highlighting the current issues, challenges and opportunities among others.
It is also saddled with the responsibility of reviewing existing sub-sector masterplans and strategies and identifying the missing links with other sectors of the economy for effective implementation.

It is also expected to identify and prioritise projects and programmes for phased implementation over the period of 2017 to 2020; estimate funding requirements and options as well as recommend appropriate financing mechanisms for the identified project.
The committee would also identify enablers for the delivery of the projects, suggest a set of performance indicators for tracking implementation; identify project risks and recommend possible mitigating measures.