United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has introduced a new formula to catch up with the millions of children that were not immunized during the pandemic.
Speaking to BusinessDay in Enugu, the Chief of Field Office (OIC) UNICEF Field Office in Enugu, Olusoji Akinleye said the formula is called ‘The Big Catch-Up’ and that it was introduced to close the immunization gap created by the pandemic which he said saw essential immunization levels decrease in over 100 countries including Nigeria.
He said it is an extended effort to lift vaccination levels among children to at least pre-pandemic levels and endeavours to exceed those.
Akinleye further said that this move (The Big Catch -Up) is led by broad range of National and global health partners and that it is also aimed at ensuring stronger primary healthcare services.
He said that even within some Local government areas in the eight states under UNICEF Enugu Field Office there are some people who had no opportunities of benefiting from immunization at all (zero immunization and those that didn’t complete, ‘under vaccinated’) due to the pandemic and other natural challenges like flooding, etc. The Big Catch-Up would create enabling opportunity for them to be vaccinated.
He commended the government of the Eight states for all their efforts in making sure the issue of immunization in their various states are taken seriously but urged them to kindly allocate more money in the budget to immunization and primary healthcare services.
The Chief of Field Office (OIC) UNICEF Field Office in Enugu, Akinleye used the forum to call all parents especially mothers to ensure that their children are vaccinated because it reduces child mortality for the benefit of the country and the parents.
He called on media organisations to take the message to all the people and explain that UNICEF is giving every child the opportunity to benefit from immunization, pointing out that “any child that was fully vaccinated, easily becomes what the wants to be.”
Akinleye also said that the vaccinations are free of charge and that UNICEF provided the vaccines, coldchaine offices and even provide incentives to the health workers and called on parents to fully make good use of the opportunities available to immunize their children.
He advised that the opinion and church leaders should encourage their members to ensure that their children are vaccinated because every child has the opportunity to be alive.