The Kwara Government on Monday appealed to traditional rulers and religious bodies across the 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs ) of the state to encourage nursing mothers to go for immunisation.
Dr Nusirat Elelu, the Executive Secretary of the Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency (KWSPHCDA), made the appeal during a stakeholders meeting g on routine immunisation.
Elelu said that the national immunisation programme in the state had achieved some significant improvements in coverage in the last few years.
She, however, said that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had led to low turnout and high dropout rates, leaving children with inadequate protection from vaccine preventable diseases.
“There is, therefore, the need to increase awareness and sensitisation of caregivers to the threat posed to child survival by Vaccine Preventable Diseases.
“These can only be achieved by influential and respected group of people in the society.
“No other group can adequately undertake this task than our respected and highly revered traditional and religious institutions,’’ the executive secretary said.
According to Elelu, the support of the traditional rulers in the past years had moved the state forward from the previous unacceptable position it occupied in routine immunisation performance and other Primary Health Care interventions.
She said that the KWSPHCDA would continue to collaborate with partners to strengthen routine immunisation.
Elelu expressed optimism that the outcome of the meeting would renew commitment to promoting child survival strategies in all the communities in the state.
Also speaking, Dr Michael Oguntoye, the Director, Primary Health Care Development Agency, said that the state government was fully committed to the routine immunisation programme.
Oguntoye said the support of traditional rulers and faith-based organisations were needed to ensure residents across the 16 LGAs of the state immunise their children and wards.
He said that routine immunisation was the entry point into PHC, adding that its performance chart in Nigeria had indicated that the death of millions of children had been prevented.
The director, however, observed that in spite of government and donor agencies commitment, there were still hindrances and poor outcome from routine immunisation data.
Dr Ahmad Tsoho, the Health Specialist of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that there was a lot of work to be done for routine immunisation to reach all eligible children across the state.
“Immunisation is the most effective public health intervention. One out of every four children has no access to vaccination,’’ he said.
Tsoho stated that UNICEF would continue to partner the state government and all other stakeholders to ensure that every child was protected from killer diseases.
He commended the state government for its commitment toward the exercise, adding that in 2016, Kwara performance chart on immunisation was 49 per cent but improved to 54 per cent in 2018.
Speaking on behalf of the traditional leaders, Dr Solomon Oloyede, the Olosi of Osi, Ekiti LGA, pledged to sensitise their subjects on the need to immunise their children.
“We support the government efforts and we will continue to ensure our people get their children immunised,’’ the traditional ruler said.
Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Bayo Sekoni