July 1, 2009

Lagos to establish immunisation posts for children

By Chioma Obinna
To check imported cases of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) in the state, the Lagos State Government is to  establish permanent posts to monitor the immunization status of children coming into the state with a view to immunize them.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, who disclosed this yesterday lamented that over 60,000 children in Lagos had remained un-immunised in spite of the repeated immunisations in the state.

To this end, the state Commissioner for Health has directed all health officials in the state to comb all the nooks and crannies of the state to ensure that all children aged between zero and five years receive polio vaccine irrespective of their previous immunisation status.

Idris reiterated the state’s commitment to seriously address the challenges that have beset routine immunisation and supplemental immunisation activities in the state.

He urged parents, care-givers, politicians, councillors, traditional leaders, and religious leaders to ensure that all children within their community receive the polio vaccine when “our health workers come knocking.”

The decision to establish the permanent post would be based on the outcome of the border synchronisation meetings for Lagos State, Ogun State and the Benin Republic. “Whether establishing the posts will be necessary, will be based on the meeting.”

According to him, the exercise which begins on Saturday in Lagos remains crucial to the state government as part of efforts to attain a free polio state.

Idris noted that child survival interventions especially immunization, apart from constituting part of the rights of the child, have been widely acknowledged as a veritable strategy towards achieving this laudable goal hence the National Immunization Plus Days are special days set aside to immunize children 0-59 months.

Lamenting that the various challenges that have beset routine immunization and supplemental immunization activities in the state, Idris noted that “ The failure to reach and immunize all children resulting in clusters of un-immunized children is the reason that Nigeria continues to experience transmission of wild polio virus as well as circulating vaccine – derived polio virus.”

He listed some of problems to include; inadequate accessibility evidenced by existence of a large number of communities underserved  with routine immunization services due to few and dilapidated Primary Health Centres across the State; poor utilization of available services amongst others.  He further stated that the state is addressing some of these challenges.

Stating that there have been improvement in Lagos State he hinted, “There has been a consistent improvement in the coverage of children immunized in the State with Oral Polio Vaccine since the Integrated Measles Campaign (IMC) implemented in December 2008, though a slight drop was observed for May 2009 NIPDs.

For instance in the December 2008 exercise, 2,806,207 children were immunized, in January 20009, 3,855,073 children were immunized; in February, 4,141,398 children were immunized; in March, 4,373,602 children were immunized; and in May, 4,088,512 children were immunized.