Stakeholders In The Nigeria’s Health Sector Are Upbeat As United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Is About to introduce four (4) million doses of pneumonia vaccines into Nigeria’s immunization schedule, maintaining that it is a bold step to avert the death of 486, 957 children.
The introduction of PCV 10, according to stakeholders will contribute immensely to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4, which focuses on reduction in child morbidity and mortality associated with pneumococcal related diseases.
Director Communication and Advocacy at the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Adamu Nuhu, told The Guardian yesterday that the flag off would now be on December 22.
With the planned introduction of the vaccine next week, all children under one year of age would be vaccinated with three doses of PCV10. The introduction of the vaccine, according to figures released by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), would avert additional 486,957 deaths of children over a six-year period nationwide.
Nuhu said: “We work in collaboration with key partners for our programmes, especially immunization. The vaccines are coming from the supply department of the UNICEF in Copenhagen. For this Phase 1 States (12 States) we expect a total of 4 million doses of the PCV10 vaccines to be distributed to those States. There is a slight delay in flight arrival.
“And to ensure a successful launch, an appropriate date has to be agreed to by all.
Last week stakeholders comprising the NPHCDA, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Da’awah Coordinating Council of Nigeria (DCCN), World Health Organization (WHO), Federal of Muslim Women Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), state health education officers from the 12 PCV introducing states, among others, met in Kaduna and agreed on the need to introduce the PCV 10 into the Nigerian routine immunization schedule.
They threw their support behind the strategy for the introduction of the vaccine as outlined by the NPHCDA and partners, and agreed to use their structures to promote the vaccine.
On its part, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) pledged to include issues about the vaccines introduction and routine immunization in its regular continuous medical education (CME). The Association also agreed to encourage sanction of any member who practices contrary to the standards of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) in the area of immunization, and also advocate to primary health care providers to comply with the national immunization guidelines. The doctors also resolved to strengthen the state health team for effective delivery of immunization services.
He gave further insights into the ailment. Nuhu stressed: “Pneumococcus (otherwise known as Streptococcus pneumoniae) is a gram-positive bacterium that causes a group of diseases known as Pneumococcal disease. The bacterium is a normal resident of human naso-pharynx in healthy individuals. It has the potential to cause infection, which could be mild such as in middle ear infection (otitis media), sinusitis and bronchitis or severe as in pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia.
“There are over 90 known serotypes with varied potential to cause disease by geographic region of the world as well as by age. However, relatively few serotypes are associated with severe disease in children. The 13 most common serotypes of pneumococcus cause 80 per cent to 93 per cent of serious pneumococcal disease in children worldwide.”
He said children less than five years of age (especially those less than two) and the elderly were most at risk of developing and dying from pneumococcal disease.
WHO estimates that over 800,000 children under five years of age die from pneumococcal disease each year with those less than two years of age, especially in developing countries, being most at risk.