NIGERIA – The World Health Organization and the UNICEF have called for urgent action to check the impending measles and polio epidemic especially as COVID-19 continues to disrupt immunization services in Nigeria.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, who made this known said the disease has a devastating effect on health services and in particular immunization services, worldwide.
The WHO DG said that unlike COVID, tools and knowledge are all that is required to stop diseases such as polio and measles.
According to him, resources and commitments are needed to put these tools and knowledge into action and save children’s lives.
“We cannot allow the fight against one deadly disease to cause us to lose ground in the fight against other diseases. Addressing global COVID-19 pandemic is critical.
“However, other deadly diseases also threaten the lives of millions of children in some of the poorest areas of the world.
“That is why today we are urgently calling for global action from country leaders, donors and partners.
“We need additional financial resources to safely resume vaccination campaigns and prioritize immunization systems that are critical to protect children and avert other epidemics besides COVID-19,” he said.
Also, Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative said Immunization is the best way to secure the future of children.
Hawkins further revealed that vaccines and immunisation services are very safe, effective and available at all government health centres.
“All caregivers and parents need to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated and protected from childhood killer diseases – including ensuring that all doses are taken so that the vaccine can be effective.
‘We must continue to engage traditional and religious institutions, as well as other key stakeholders at the community level, to stay vigilant and keep up vaccination rates to avert a resurgence of the wild poliovirus
“Also, we must continue to address the continued threat of vaccine-derived polio and other vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, including measles,” he said.
The world health agencies also estimate that US$655 million (US$400 million for polio and US$255 million for measles) will be needed to address dangerous immunity gaps in non-Gavi eligible countries and target age groups.