….wants synergy on increased health spending on child health services
By Gabriel Ewepu, ABUJA
As the world commemorates World Immunization Week, Save the Children International, SCI, Nigeria, yesterday, urged Federal, State and Local Governments including stakeholders at all levels to accelerate actions toward reducing and ending the under-5 mortality rate of children from vaccine-preventable diseases.
SCI made the call in a statement, where it gave some highlights on how children are dying daily from diseases, especially of poor households; about 1 in 10 children in Nigeria die before their 5th birthday; The under-5 mortality rate of children born in the poorest households (133 per 1000) was nearly three times the under-5 mortality rate for children born in the richest households (47 per 1000); Only 36 per cent of children aged 12- 23 months received all recommended vaccines in Nigeria.
According to SCI Nigeria, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2021 indicated that about 1 in 10 children in Nigeria die before their 5th birthday.
“Hence, all stakeholders should strive to ensure that no child dies from preventable causes before their fifth birthday”, it said.
SCI also pointed out that according to the findings of the 2021 Nigeria Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) and National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS) carried out by the NBS as part of the global MICS programme, the infant mortality rate is 63 deaths per 1,000 live births for the 5-year period preceding the survey, while the under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) for the same period is 102 deaths per 1,000 live births.
“The neonatal mortality rate is 34 deaths per 1000 live births. Child mortality is 42 deaths per 1,000 live births. The under-5 mortality rate of children born in the poorest households (133 per 1000) was nearly three times the under-5 mortality rate for children born in the richest households (47 per 1000).
“Save the Children believes that immunization saves millions of lives, and it is recognized as one of the world’s most successful health interventions”, SCI added.
It further point that, “The benefits of vaccines are fully realized when children receive all recommended vaccine doses in a timely manner.”
However, it lamented that, “Immunization coverage in Nigeria is below the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) goals, that is only 36 per cent of children aged 12- 23 months received all recommended vaccines and 18% did not receive any, putting a substantial number of children at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Substantially, more children are fully vaccinated in the southern zones compared to the northern zones, according to the National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS), 2021.
“Therefore, we would like to urge all stakeholders to continue to build strong political commitment for an increased immunisation coverage and other primary healthcare interventions, thus contributing to increased domestic investment in health to meet the Abuja Declaration of 15% (2011) as against the present 8% budgetary allocation to health by Nigeria in 2023 at the national level.
Meanwhile, SCI assured that “Save the Children will work with partners and stakeholders towards ensuring that increased health spending directly improves child health services, including removing catastrophic health spending, reducing non-financial barriers to accessing care, and prioritizing primary health services in Nigeria.”
The Acting Country Director, Save the Children International (SCI) Nigeria,Faton Krasniqi, said, “There is an urgent need to empower Ward Development Committees (WDC) at the sub-national level to drive accountability processes; as well as promote community action; expand stakeholder base to include local communities including pastoralists to ensure vaccines reach difficult terrains; and strengthen coordination, collaboration and implement accountability frameworks for routine immunisation with a view to improving community engagement to increase uptake of routine immunisation services in Nigeria.
“This year, World Immunization Week’s (24th- 30th April 2023) theme of ‘The Big Catch-Up’ aimed at highlighting the collective action needed to protect people from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“The theme underpins the need to reach the millions of children who missed out on vaccines, restore essential immunization coverage, and strengthen primary health care to deliver immunization.”
Director of Advocacy, Campaigns, Communication and Media, Save the Children International (SCI), Nigeria, Amanuel Mamo, said, “Going forward, we should create an enabling environment and strengthen the three gateways to deliver Basic Healthcare Provision Fund as the principal funding vehicle for the Basic Minimum Package of Health Services (BMPHS), which includes immunisations integrated with other services and implemented at primary healthcare facilities across Nigeria, using data to drive decision-making while ensuring the implementation of the zero-dose operational plan (Z-DOP).
“Save the Children International Nigeria calls upon the Federal and State governments to keep immunization high on their sustainable development agenda as vaccinated communities will be healthy, productive and resilient.
“Hence, Save the Children welcomes the need for accelerating vaccine coverage by supporting Gavi’s 2020 replenishment goals and ensuring investment drives for more equitable vaccination coverage, and improving vaccine affordability, especially for children and other vulnerable groups.”