- Urges concerted effort to improve nationwide coverage
Accountability Coalition group, Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR) and Track Health have lauded the Federal Government for improved transparency in reporting the country’s immunization data.
The civil society organizations said for the first time, Nigeria provided improved and quality data on immunization estimates to international organizations working on immunization – an effort that were commended by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI and other international groups.
In a statement made available to Nigeria Health Online on Wednesday by Communications Officer of CHR, Ndidi Chukwu, the CSOs were particularly happy with the Federal Ministry of Health under the leadership of Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole on the development.
The nationwide data was reported in the recently released 2016 WHO/UNICEF estimates of national immunization coverage (WUENIC) The 2016 estimates had revealed that there were eight countries that had less than 50 percent coverage with DPT3 including Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Ukraine.
It also revealed that worldwide, an estimated 12.9 million infants, nearly 1 in 10, did not receive any vaccinations in 2016, per DPT coverage estimates. It stated also that an estimated 6.6 million infants who did receive their first dose of DPT-containing vaccine did not complete the full, three dose DPT immunization series in 2016.
Co-chair of Track Health, Mrs Chika Offor, said in the statement: “for every $1 invested in Immunization in Africa, $41 is gained in economic and social benefits, this means investing in Immunization in Nigeria to our teeming children is the answer to national sustainable growth and development, I encourage for a concerted effort at national and sub-national levels to utilize this improved quality data and step-up campaigns and ensure no child is left behind”
The release also quoted Deputy Chair House of Representative Committee on Health, Hon. Muhammad Usman, as saying: “We, the legislators, will strengthen our oversight function so that Nigerian government will improve immunization and revitalize primary health care services within the shortest possible time. All hands must be on deck to ensure sustained and rigorous immunization services in all the 36 states plus FCT.”
Chairman, CHR Board of Trustees, Dr Aminu Magashi Garba also said: “We are committed as civil societies to support Nigerian government at federal and sub-national levels through strategic advocacy to political actors and policy makers to maximize the gains of having correct and transparent data to finance immunization using government budgets and promote timely releases of finances leading to the change we all hope to see.
The release further noted that although Nigeria was among the few countries reported in the 2016 estimates to have a less than 50% coverage with DPT3, the development underpins the transparent commitment of the government in reporting accurate data which would tremendously boost effort to improve immunization services nationwide and also help to step-up efforts in the states where coverage was at its lowest level.
“As opined by experts, amid the stagnation and even regression in some countries, a clear positive has also emerged this year: better, more accurate data. For the first time at the global level, WHO and UNICEF received immunization coverage data at the subnational level for 125 of 194 countries, 89 of which reported data even further down to lower administrative (district) levels covering a combined population of 88million. This change represents a huge leap forward in a remarkably short period. And countries like Nigeria deserve our highest praise for reporting the most accurate estimates of coverage, not the highest possible number. As a result, the Nigerian government, despite immense administration and security challenges, is better placed to map out gaps in coverage and respond appropriately. Nigeria’s courageous leadership demonstrates how serious commitment to reaching every child with immunizations starts with accurate data.
“With this newfound commitment to accurate data, our chances of succeeding have never been greater. Why? Because accurate data can completely change how we deliver vaccines. More detailed data can help identify patterns and give us new insights into why these gaps persist, opening the door to new solutions,” it stressed.