Friday, 16 March 2018

Lagos, UNICEF Urge Mothers to Immunise Children Under Five Years

Rebecca Ejifoma

Determined to reduce Nigeria’s high under-five years old deaths, mothers have been urged to immunise their children against measles as the Lagos State 2018 Measles Vaccination Campaign from March 15 to 29.

The vaccination campaign, which will run from March 15 to 29 this year in all health facilities in Lagos and designated posts in communities, aims to reach 3.6 million children between ages nine months and five years.

Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Iyabo Aare, said the campaign aims to immunise all eligible children, irrespective of previous vaccination history. “The measles vaccine is free, safe and also saves lives.”

According to Aare at the Lagos State Government and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Media Orientation Programme in Lagos recently, during the measles campaign in 2015, the state met 86.2 per cent of the expected 95 per cent coverage target. Adding, she noted that the state could not achieve optimal coverage as a result of some resistant groups, including churches, mosques and estates where vaccinators were not allowed to vaccinate children.

Listing other partners including: World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Primary Healthcare Board Development Agency and more, the Perm Secretary added: “This campaign is very important for our children; to protect them from this killer disease and secure them because they are our future”.

Now, research has shown that Measles is an acute highly contagious disease often of childhood caused by Measles virus of genus Morbillivirus. It is also found among malnourished children, especially with Vitamin A deficiency and those who live in crowded condition.

Some of the symptoms are: skin rash, cough, fever, red eyes, light, sensitivity, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat and white spots inside the mouth.

With this, stakeholders emphasised that immunisation was one of the most vital and potent means of preventing childhood mortality. Experts have said that if a child has received vaccines such as Bacilli Calmatte Guerin (BCG) and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), Diphetaria Pertussis; Tetanus, Yellow Fever, Measles and Hepatitis B, then such child will have been considered fully immunised.

“Nigeria ranked number one for being the most unimmunised for measles vaccine 1st dose with 3.3 million children as compared to India with 2.9 children. Nigeria is 192 out of 200 countries in global ranking for measles vaccination coverage,” UNICEF’s Health Specialist, Dr Charles Nwosisi, revealed.

He spoke further that measles vaccination coverage in 2016 was below the 95 per cent coverage target, as Nigeria met 51 per cent coverage. “This 2017/2018 theme is, ‘Catch-up’ campaign. It is to mop up or reach children that have been missed over the years to meet the 95 per cent target coverage.”

Speaking also, the Immunisation Programme Officer, Lagos State, Dr Olubunmi Akinlade, expressed that measles could cause blindness, death and reduce a child’s ability to fight other diseases, resulting in frequent illness.

Following this, the Director, Health Education, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, Modupe Owojuyigbe, said it was important for children to receive immunisation to be fully protected against measles. “The vaccines are safe, free and not harmful to children. A child that does not complete his routine immunisation is half protected. Vaccination will save more lives”.