The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has raised the alarm over the declining immunisation coverage in Nigeria, declaring that the recent report showing 33 percent was unacceptable. The medical doctors also expressed worry that the poor immunisation coverage might increase childhood deaths due to vaccine preventable diseases, such as measles and polio among others, and called on stakeholders in the health sector to intensify campaign on immunisation of children against childhood killer diseases. NMA’s alarm came as the European Union, EU, through its Support to Immunization Governance in Nigeria, EU-SIGN, initiative, weekend, boosted routine immunization and primary healthcare services in the country with N3.8 billion. National President of the NMA, Dr Mike Ogirima, who was represented by Lagos State chairman of the association, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote, made the call at the opening of the 2017 National Physicians’ Week in Lagos, said everybody, including the three tiers of government, had the responsibility to enlighten the public through aggressive campaigns on the need for regular immunisation of children. Speaking in his capacity, the Lagos State Chairman, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote, urged the Federal Government to make acquisition of vaccines cheaper and establish a production factory in the country. Meanwhile, the European Union, EU, through its Support to Immunization Governance in Nigeria, (EU-SIGN) initiative, weekend boosted routine immunization and primary healthcare services in the country with N3.8 billion. This is coming on the heels of a recent report which scored Nigeria 33 percent in overall immunisation coverage. Under the EU-SIGN project, the 23 recipient states, including the Federal Capital Territory FCT, received vehicles, direct solar refrigerators as well as construction and renovation of health facilities and cold stores. Already, N23 billion has been committed to EU-SIGN project, out of which N11.6 billion had been committed to routine immunisation component, while 10.8 billion was committed through the World Health Organisation, WHO, for the polio eradication component. Commissioning the project in Abuja weekend, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, recalled that the immunization partnership with EU project had taken Nigeria far in terms of routine immunization efficiency and accountability. “The earlier projects were implemented in 2002 and 2011 with 97.4 million Euros and 15.6 million Euros respectively. ‘’It took us several steps forward in our quests to providing medical health and essential services to all Nigerians in the present Universal Healthcare Agenda,’’ he said. He said the country was committed to institutionalizing routine immunization activities to ensure protections against vaccine preventable disease. In his remarks, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, who recalled that the long standing relationship with Nigeria dated back to 2001 with a commitment of N7.2 billion towards polio eradication, announced further plans to deepen the relationship by helping Nigeria achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. He said the overall objective of EU-SIGN project was to contribute to reducing sickness and death in children due to vaccine preventable diseases by ensuring quality routine immunization and interrupting the spread of poliomyelitis in Nigeria. He said: “The implementation of the project has required close collaboration with the government through the national Primary health care development Agency to enhance development of local capacity. “This interventions being commissioned today are the result of many months to years of hard work from project design to contracting and execution which sometimes came with daunting challenges but which did not deter us because we believe in Nigeria.” On his part, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, recalled that the project was initially in six states but was expanded to 16 states including FCT, and now 23 states. Appreciating the EU, he drew the attention of the EU that the Nigeria health system was not yet out of woods as a recent report of showed that Nigeria still have a long way to go especially now the country is facing economic challenges.
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