Martins Ifijeh

The Nigerian government has joined other members of the Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (GAVI) to restate its commitment towards improving routine immunisation and sustained coverage across the country.

Stating this at the sideline of the 68th Meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa, holding in Dakar, Senegal, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said the recently conducted Multi Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) in Nigeria gave a clearer picture of the immunisation status as against the administrative data, thereby helping the government in declaring a public health emergency on immunisation, as part of plans to enable the country close all identified gaps.

He said the government came up with several initiatives to address some of the challenges, such as the establishment of National Emergency Routine Immunisation Center (NERIC) which primarily aims to revamp the country’s Routine Immunisation (RI) Programme.

Adewole said: “Some of the major challenges were poor coordination, accountability, weak service delivery and inaccurate data among others. In addressing these, the country now adopted zero tolerance for data falsification. NERIC has developed a strong coordination and accountability structure, with reward and sanction for actors at the federal, states and local government levels. And conduct daily progress monitoring meetings to immediately identify gaps and deal with them appropriately.

“The GAVI’s decision to extend the transition period to 10 years as against the earlier five year deadline has helped the country in mapping out funding plans to ensure sustainability after the withdrawal of GAVI support for immunisation in Nigeria.

“Government of Nigeria has an annual funding plan of 10 per cent increase in immunization budget which will enable the country take full responsivity for immunisation of its citizens by the end of the transition programme in 2028.”

According to him, the country has a target of 80 per cent immunisation coverage soon, adding that the government was very grateful to GAVI for the extension. He said the country would “keep faith to our commitments to GAVI and all our other development partners”.

Other African countries at the meeting also shared ideas and challenges similar to Nigeria and as such the meeting agreed on the need to adopt measures of doing things differently to achieve better outcomes, increase in political commitment of state actors especially in the areas of strong leadership and transparency, ensure community and group participation which also targets women and youths, have a strong data integrity regime, and strong commitment to right recruitment which targets human resources with right profile and invest in capacity building.

The GAVI Alliance Group comprises of donors and beneficiary countries who come together to advance immunisation and jointly contribute to funds for their activities.