ASABA/Nigeria: As part of efforts aimed at ensuring the well-being of children under five years, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nicholas Azinge has affirmed the State Government’s commitment to the successful coverage of the routine Vaccination Programme in Delta State.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nicholas Azinge revealed this in his office when he received members of the Missed Opportunity for Vaccination, Africa Regional Office of the World Health Organization working in conjunction with Governments and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
Dr. Azinge said that improvement would be made especially in the hard-to-reach areas which were predominantly in the riverine communities with the view to ensuring adequate coverage in line with the expectations of the vaccination regimen.
He said that the affected communities were spread across Burutu, Ndokwa West, Ethiope East and Isoko South Local Government Areas of the State and added that they accounted for the poor rating of the State in the vaccination exercises carried out so far nationwide.
While reiterating the successes achieved in the Saving-One-Million-Lives (SOML) and Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR) initiatives, the Commissioner assured the Team that the successes would be replicated in the vaccination exercises in order to achieve the desired goal.
Speaking earlier, Dr. Jude Winful-Orieke, Executive Director, State Primary Health Care Development Agency informed the Commissioner that the Team had been on the field for three days and a brief draft of the findings would be made available to him.
He assured that processes towards addressing the absence of budget for routine immunization has been initiated and is optimistic that it will be approved in the 2018 budget.
Dr. Winful-Orieke added that the issues raised by the Team from their field observation that bothered on Staff attitude would be addressed by the Agency.
Earlier, Mr. Sambo Ishaku, the National Immunization Officer, with the World Health Organization (WHO), thanked the Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nicholas Azinge for his efforts and achievements in the State’s health sector.
Mr. Ishaku said the Missed Opportunity for Vaccination Team was in the Commissioner’s office as part of their assessment tour of the State’s Vaccination Programme.
He said that one of the aim of the Team was to reduce the number of unimmunized children in the country as Nigeria accounted for 4.3 of the 18 million unreached children globally, adding that this situation had been declared an issue of Public Health concern with an 18 months’ period to address the anomaly.
In his contribution, Prof. Joseph Okeibunor, the Missed Opportunity for Vaccination Assessor, African Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the visit was to afford them the opportunity to make a preliminary presentation of results on issues encountered during their vaccination assessment tour of the State.
According to Prof. Okeibunor, some of the issues begging for attention and urgent intervention of the State Government included cold chain and vaccine storage facilities, absence of budget line for effective routine immunization, transportation of vaccines to the places of need and low morale among staff which accounted for mothers being turned back on flimsy excuses resulting in missed vaccinations. Others were long queues, early closure from office and extortion.
He appealed to the State Government to intervene in the above mentioned issues as the absence of budget for routine immunization especially, would lead to high risk of epidemic outbreaks.