Over 4.3m children in Nigeria, DRC, Ethiopia miss vaccination annually – WHO
An estimated 4.32 million children in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia miss out on life-saving vaccines every year, leaving them prone to preventable diseases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.
WHO disclosed that these three countries account for the highest number of children who miss out on vaccination in Africa every year while expressing concern over the “stalled” immunisation coverage in the region in the last decade.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, in a message to mark the 2021 African Vaccination Week, disclosed that an estimated 9 million children in the region miss out on life-saving vaccines annually and 80 percent of them are living in 10 countries.
Among the 10 countries, Moeti said Nigeria, the DRC and Ethiopia account for almost 60 percent, which is an estimated 4.32 million children including those in hard-to-reach rural areas and urban communities.
The director regrets that, since January 2020, eight African countries have reported major measles outbreaks, with tens of thousands of cases, largely due to low routine immunisation coverage and delayed vaccination drives.
“It is concerning that routine immunization coverage at the regional level has stalled in the past 10 years at between 70 and 75 percent”, she said.
To ensure routine immunisation reaches every child, the regional director said there are health system challenges that need to be addressed.
According to her, these include inadequate infrastructure, transport and power supply for refrigerators, limited numbers of frontline health workers, as well as stock-outs of vaccines and other essentials, like syringes.
She recalled that in 2017, African heads of state committed to investing in enhancing universal access to immunisation, through the Addis Declaration on Immunisation.
“Building on this, integrated action is needed to expand access to immunisation as part of primary health care systems. This should be backed by a sufficient, trained workforce, strong surveillance and health information systems, and national leadership, management and coordination.
“Communities should be engaged to improve health literacy and increase demand for vaccines, with special attention on reaching the poorest and most marginalised groups.