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US CDC Partners FG to reach 2.3m Unvaccinated Nigerian Children 



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The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Nigeria has pledged to support the Federal Government in reaching zero-dose children to reduce vaccine-preventable diseases in the country.

The US CDC Nigeria made the pledge on Wednesday at a media round-table in Abuja.

Zero-dose children are the children who did not receive a single dose of any vaccine in the routine national immunisation schedule.

They are measured by the number of children who have not received the first dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vaccine.

According to the US CDC, more than 10 million children are estimated to be zero-dose children globally, 58 per cent of which live in just 10 countries, including Nigeria.

The Senior Immunisation Specialist, Global Immunisation Division, Global Health Centre, US CDC, Dr Hadley Ikwe, noted that the centre is supporting the Federal Government to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Ikwe said the vaccine saves lives, and it is one of the most impactful interventions in preventing illnesses and deaths in the history of public health.

“Four African countries make up 4.4 million zero-dose children. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the large global increases in zero-dose children,” Ikwe said.

Ikwe, who is a public health expert, noted that the 10 countries contributing to the 58 per cent of the global zero-dose burden are Nigeria (2.3m), Ethiopia (1.1m), India (1.1m), Democratic Republic of the Congo (753,000), Philippines (637,000), Angola (614,000), Indonesia (571,000), Brazil (431,000), Pakistan (431,000), and Mozambique (377,000).

“With 2.3 million zero-dose children, Nigeria accounts for the highest burden globally. Only about 57 per cent of eligible children in Nigeria were fully vaccinated as of 2021.

“Zero-dose children are susceptible to many diseases. The introduction and spread of disease within a community can cause epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases,” Ikwe said.

The expert added that zero-dose children are mostly in regions that have access and equity gaps.

He, however, said Nigeria’s vaccination programme has identified 100 priority high-burden local government areas to target zero-dose reduction efforts and strengthen Primary Healthcare Centres.

“CDC is directly supporting the government in selecting geographies through intensified investments in immunisation second-tier between 2023 and 2028 to target high-burden zero-dose LGAs in second-tier LGAs in Niger and Zamfara states, particularly in security-compromised areas, and hard-to-reach and missed communities; use innovative integrated strategies including better microplanning, and build capacity and workforce development,” he added.

In her opening remarks, the Programme Director, US CDC Nigeria, Dr Patricia Tanifum said, many children missed out on immunisation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are supporting the government to reach the zero-dose children. The country has been working to reach these children, but we still have a long way to go. So, the U.S CDC is contributing very strongly towards reaching these children,” Tanifum stated.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Sydani Group, Sidney Sampson, said the group is committed to supporting the CDC in reaching zero-dose children in the country.

“This is about the Nigerian child and all of us at some point were children. When we say reaching zero children, we mean those children that have never been reached; this means those that don’t benefit from immunisation interventions from both the government and other Non-Governmental Organisations working in the immunisation area.

“We are happy to be partners and support the effort of the U.S CDC have been putting in to ensure every child is reached with required doses,” Sampson said

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