Around 800,000 children are currently unable to access routine immunization in six northern states, as revealed by Dr. Faisal Shauib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). The states in question are Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, and Sokoto. This lack of access is attributed to the prevalence of banditry and other security issues. Dr. Shauib addressed this concerning situation during a strategic meeting held in Sokoto with traditional leaders from these affected communities.
The meeting, organized in collaboration with the Sultan Foundation of Peace and Development and NPHCDA, aimed to enhance primary healthcare delivery, especially immunization services, in the region and the country as a whole. Dr. Shauib emphasized the vital role traditional leaders play in advocating for immunization and primary healthcare services. By leveraging their influence and respected positions, these leaders can raise awareness about the importance of regular immunization and improve vaccine acceptance within communities.
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Dr. Shauib highlighted the threat posed by inaccessibility to vaccination, particularly in the context of the circulating variant poliovirus type 2 (cvpv2) that is currently spreading in parts of Nigeria. He underscored the urgency of reaching every child to prevent the further spread of this virus and other preventable diseases. He also discussed the effectiveness of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine in preventing cervical and other types of cancers and expressed the need to communicate its significance to the communities.
The UNICEF country representative, Cristian Munduate, reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s health service delivery by providing millions of vaccine doses and offering technical assistance. She emphasized the importance of collaboration to overcome the challenges posed by inaccessibility.
In response, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, represented by the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Mera, acknowledged the leadership role they hold and pledged to explore alternative methods to reach inaccessible areas. The meeting concluded with a shared commitment to improving healthcare delivery and immunization services for the well-being of Nigerian children.