By Ochiaka Ugwu
An internationally recognized health care providers and a Non-Government Organization, Afrihealth Optonet International, has called on policy makers to show more commitment to Immunization and accountability in the health sector in Africa.
The organization in Nigeria and 14 other countries, 25 African civil society organizations and one international organization have joined the 33 Days to Power Up Immunization Initiative in order to hold a debate, over 33 days, on the importance of immunization and track vaccines, finances and legislation.
Speaking to journalists, in Abuja, Dr. Uzodinma Adirieje from Afrihealth Optonet Association stressed the importance of reminding communities and decision-makers of the critical role of the tetanus, rubella and HPV vaccines in girls’ survival.
In line with the theme of the 2018 International Day of the Girl Child –“With Her: A Skilled GirlForce”, The National Coordinator, Afrihealth Optonet, Dr. Uzodinma Adirieje.
He noted that, “Our objective for the 2018 edition is to promote girls’ skills development and acquisition for the empowerment and fulfillment of their human rights while also highlighting the challenges that girls all over the world face especially in Africa.”
He emphasized the importance of encouraging girls’ education and professional qualification, and also of recalling the positive impact of good immunization status on the productivity of girls, and children in general.
He said “In 2016, the continent marked significant achievements by virtually eradicating the meningococcal A meningitis epidemic and by significantly reducing the morbidity and mortality burden due to measles.”
According to Dr. Adirieje, who is also WHO Scholar Alumni and Accompanist CEO & United Nations Main Representative, noted that we have reached 25% as shown in the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, MICS, in Nigeria. Nigeria has highest number of unvaccinated children in the world “We recognize the efforts made to achieve these levels. Much remains to be done to meet the 2020 targets set by our governments in the Global Plan of Action for Immunization, GPAI.
“In January 2017, African Heads of States endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization, ADI, through which they acknowledged that despite their endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, they are largely off track. The ADI reinforces their commitment at the highest level of political engagement.”
“This activity is part of the “33 Days to Power Up Immunization” campaign which was successfully launched in 2017, thanks to the impacts such as the Increase of funding for both child and maternal health in the 2018 in Ghana, obtained through the advocacy activities of 14 CSOs from 10 African countries.”
The group who is also working with an NGO with Consultative Status at the United Nations ECOSOC- posited that, “Throughout the 2nd edition of the campaign, whose key dates are the International Day of the Girl Child, the World Polio Day and the World Pneumonia Day, we will be tracking vaccines, finances and legislation, three areas that will help us stay on course to achieving universal access to immunization.