In an effort to boost immunization rates, particularly among children who are yet to receive any vaccines (referred to as zero dose children), the Federal Government has entered into a collaboration with GAVI, the vaccine alliance. This partnership has led to the establishment of the zero dose learning hub; designed to bridge the immunization gap for children who were previously excluded from national and sub-national vaccination efforts.
During the launch of the zero dose learning hub in Abuja, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), emphasised the nation’s commitment to enhancing immunization coverage. Dr. Shuaib acknowledged the numerous challenges faced in establishing an effective routine immunization system; including a shortage of healthcare personnel, limited resources, insufficient funding, and inadequate supplies.
To address these challenges, a range of strategic interventions has been implemented: including Optimized Outreach Sessions, Optimized Integrated Routine Immunization Sessions, Routine Immunization Intensification, and the Quarterly Lot Quality Assurance Survey (LQAS); all of which have shown promising results. The overarching goal is to ensure that every eligible child is reached and safeguarded against vaccine-preventable diseases. The government claimed.
Dr. Heidi Raynolds, a Senior Specialist in Evaluation and Learning at GAVI, pointed out that Nigeria has the highest number of zero dose children globally; highlighting the gravity of the situation. However, there has been significant progress, with Penta-3 coverage increasing from 33 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in 2022, and the number of zero dose children declining from 3.5 million to 2.3 million during the same period.
The Nigeria Learning Hub is acclaimed to provide an invaluable platform to bring together partners regularly, gather evidence on effective interventions to reach these children, and ensure that this evidence informs program improvements; ultimately strengthening routine immunization and reaching zero dose children.
Ireport247 sought the opinion of Nigerians on the matter, and can only come to the conclusion that Nigerians have a contrary view. Speaking with Olaide, a mother of three whose children were never vaccinated, she said: “I am surprised that the Federal Government is going into such synergy with an organisation with no nice record regarding immunisation. The Polio vaccination adverse effects stories in Northern Nigeria should not be thrown away like they were fictions. Those were lives maimed or taken with clear cut link with Bill and Melinda Gates.
“Our children are not afflicted with strange disease; in fact, statistics have shown that zero dose children have stronger immunity than those vaccinated. What the Federal Government out to do should be to study these children and not introduce them to what would drop their immunity.”
Oluwaseyifunmi, another mother of three, who vaccinated one of her children and stopped toeing the line due to her mother’s influence also affirmed that the last two children have stronger immunity compared with the first child that was vaccinated.
It appears that the Federal Government will need to have a discussion with such parents and true health professionals who can give the proper guidance before forging such alliance.