By CHIOMA OBINNA
With one in five children still missing out on vaccination, scientists at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Yaba, Lagos, have commenced research activities to address factors responsible for low uptake of immunisation in the country.
Speaking in Lagos on this year’s World Immunisation Week, Director General, NIMR, Professor Innocent Ujah, noted that although globally, immunisation estimated to avert no fewer than three million deaths annually, an estimated 22.6 million infants are not reach with immunisation services worldwide despite global efforts at immunising children under five against vaccine preventable diseases,
Ujah, however, regretted that more than half of the children missed, live in Indonesia, India and Nigeria. He blamed the development on ignorance of mothers.
“Issues of immunisation are looked at from varying perspectives ranging from cautious suspicion of the true intent to outright rejection of vaccination. Obviously, gaps in the effective utilisation of this preventable intervention exist, largely resulting from the wrong perception even among the educated class on the real value of immunisation. At some point, it was rumoured that vaccines contained contraceptives aimed at reducing population of the North but this not true at all.”
The DG described immunisation as one of the most cost-effective and most successful health investment interventions with proven strategies that make it accessible to the most hard-to-reach and vulnerable population, necessitating the health given to mothers at clinics.
“Looking back and comparing the times, I would say yes, Nigeria is up-to-date. This is because we were in a country where routine immunisation was phased out. But now, that has been re-introduced. We have increased the momentum for polio vaccination. In fact, this year, only one case of polio was detected. If we compare last year’s immunisation exercise, you would notice that we improved a lot this year. As long as we continue to produce children, we would ensure that they are all immunised.”
Ujah said research is on concerning the immune system and immunisation. “We are still on the review stage, because research is not something rushed. It requires proper planning and a comprehensive review of the literature so that at the end of the day, a tangible outcome is derived.”