By Lexi Elo
No fewer than 4.3 million children have been immunised against childhood preventable disease especially poliomyelitis in the recently concluded March National Immunisation Plus Days (NIPDs) exercise in Lagos, Dr. Yewande Adesina, the Special Adviser on Health to the Lagos State Governor, has said.
Adeshina, who made this known on Thursday at her office in Alausa while briefing newsmen on the state of preparedness for the implementation of the forthcoming April National Immunisation Plus Days (NIPDs) exercise where over four million children are targeted, noted that the four-day March NIPDs was adjudged successful with 96 per cent coverage; using the State Population figure.
She stated that the Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication in Nigeria has recommended two rounds of NIPDs in March and April 2015, targeted at all children under the age of five, adding that the children would be immunised with two drops of supplemental oral polio vaccine while the left little finger of all immunized children will be marked for ease of identification.
“The significance of immunisation campaigns such as these cannot be over-emphasized as it is known that immunisation is the most cost effective strategy in disease prevention amongst children under five years of age”, the special adviser stressed.
She explained that poliomyelitis, commonly called polio, is a viral disease yet to be eradicated in Nigeria, adding that it is one of the preventable childhood diseases which is highly infectious and mainly affects young children stressing also that the virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water and it multiplies in the intestine from where it can invade the nervous system.
“NIPDs campaign is essentially a Polio campaign initiated under the Polio Eradication Initiative in Nigeria which aim to increase the number of children immunized by immunising at least 95 per cent of children aged 0-59 months with Oral Polio Virus (OPV) in all LGAs, regardless of their previous immunisation status; to reduce zero dose rate, that is children that have never received immunization before; to increase routine immunization coverage; and to promote integration of other child survival”, Adeshina said.
She noted that the April NIPDs campaign would also be implemented for only four days; from Saturday 25th to Tuesday 28th April, 2015 stressing that the campaign would involve house-to-house, transit and fixed post teams adding also that children at homes, markets, churches, mosques, major car parks and social event venues would be specifically targeted.
“Though the first day of the April NIPDs coincides with the Environmental Sanitation Day, preparations are in place to ensure thorough fare for all the implementers and monitors. The coincidence with the Environmental Sanitation Day is in effect an added advantage to the success of the exercise as mothers and caregivers would be home with their babies”, Adeshina said.
The special adviser stated that a target population of over four million children is expected to be covered in tandem with Lagos State Population figure in the April NIPDs exercise adding that the house-to-house and transit components of the immunization teams will administer only OPV to children aged 0–59 months irrespective of their immunization status and encourage the eligible children in the houses to visit the immunization posts for the other antigens.
“In all, Lagos State will mount 752 fixed posts, 2,189 house-to-house, and 1,712 transit Teams. Plans have been made to implement activities that would attract children and caregivers to vaccination posts like vaccination post banners, drumming, music, giving of ‘pluses’ to immunized children, amongst others. The hours of service will be between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily for the four days” she explained.
While noting that the immunization service is free, Adeshina appealed to parent and caregiver to ensure that all children under the age of five years receive polio vaccine irrespective of their immunization status when health workers come knocking at their doors between Saturday 25th and Tuesday 28th April, 2015 adding also that children requiring other antigens apart from OPV should be taken to the nearest primary healthcare centre for full vaccination from other childhood killer diseases.
“The responsibility is not that of the parents and care givers alone. It rests on everybody to ensure that our children are fully immunized. I am therefore pleading with all our leaders in the state; community, traditional and religious leaders to take full responsibility in ensuring that every child in their community receives all necessary polio and other scheduled antigens. This campaign is another window of opportunity to protect our children from vaccine preventable diseases. The vaccine is safe and effective, and is to be administered to the children irrespective of their previous immunisation status”, the special adviser posited.