By Henrietta Lucy Attah
The Federal Government has restated its commitment to improve and sustain immunization coverage in the country.
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole gave the government position while joining other members of the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) to share challenges and the successes in the immunization regime and review strategies for improvement of routine immunization on the sidelines of the 68th Meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, holding in Dakar, Senegal.
A statement issued yesterday by the ministry’s Director, Media and Public Relations
Boade Akinola, said the Minister assured the meeting of Nigeria’s strong commitment to immunization as a way of saving lives and improving health outcomes.
He noted that the country recently conducted a Multi Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) that gave a clearer picture of the immunization status as against the administrative data, and thereby declared a Public Health Emergency on immunization to enable the country to close all the identified gaps.
“Accordingly, the government came up with several initiatives to address some of the challenges such as the establishment of National Emergency Routine Immunization Center (NERIC) which primarily aims to revamp the country’s Routine Immunization (RI) Programme”.
He said some of the major challenges were poor coordination, accountability, weak service delivery and inaccurate data among others.
In addressing these, he said 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.”
He said, the GAVI’s decision to extend the transition period to 10years as against the earlier 5year deadline has helped the country in mapping out funding plans to ensure sustainability after the withdrawal of GAVI support for immunization in Nigeria.
“Government of Nigeria has an annual funding plan of 10% increase in immunization budget which will enable the country take full responsivity for immunization of its citizens by the end of the transition Programme in 2028.” According to him, the country has a target of 80% immunization coverage soon, adding that the government was very grateful to GAVI for the extension. He also said the country would “keep faith to our commitments to GAVI and all our other development partners”.