Nigeria still occupies the top chart among countries with high death toll rate of vaccine-preventable diseases. One may wonder why Nigeria remains the epicentre of vaccine-preventable diseases in Africa, despite the availability of vaccines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines have been reported to be one of the biggest success stories of modern medicine which have helped in averting death linked to vaccine-preventable diseases.
Vaccine-preventable diseases are classes of disease burden easily prevented by immunization. Vaccination serves as a shield, keeping families and communities safe against diseases. Vaccine-preventable death accounts for the primary cause of death in the country.
In Nigeria, vaccines are available for the following vaccine-preventable diseases; Diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza serotype b infection, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Pertussis, Poliomyelitis.
Preventable diseases account for 40% of childhood deaths in Nigeria, yet available data shows that over 75% of Nigeria’s children ages 0 to 59 months are not fully immunized.
Statistics revealed that children in the first one month of life contribute more than 45% of the deaths of children in the country. It is clear that health indicators concerning children especially those under-5 are used to determine the state of development of nations.
Data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey report shows that only 1 in 4 children receive recommended vaccines and over 36% and 14% of these children live in urban and rural areas, respectively. This figure is quite alarming and worrisome and requires urgent attention from all a sundry to address this menace.
The daunting reasons why vaccine prevented diseases still thrive in Nigeria are not far-fetched as several Hitches to full coverage lingers.
Several factors have been identified as the leading cause of death associated with vaccine-preventable diseases in Nigeria, these include: access to services, health staff attitudes and practices, reliability of services, false contraindications, and parents’ practical knowledge of vaccination, fear of side effects, hard to reach communities, distance of the health facility centre from homes, conflicting priorities and parental beliefs.
There is an urgent need to step up coverage in view to further prevent childhood deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases. Also, there is a need for greater collaboration between governments at all levels and relevant stakeholders in the health sector to raise awareness, create enlightenment on the importance and necessity of regular immunization of children, and intensify campaign on vaccination against childhood killer diseases.
By David Arome
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