UNICEF: 61,000 children in Southeast Nigeria not vaccinated

ABOUT 61,000 children across the five Southeast states have not received any vaccination, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

The UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, revealed the number at the ongoing First Quarterly Review Meeting of the South-East Zone Traditional Rulers’ Committee on PHC Delivery (SETRC) in Awka.

The meeting was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).

Munduate explained that the situation was worse in Anambra and Imo states, representing more than 30 per cent and 25 per cent of the total number, respectively.

He said, “There are almost 61,000 children spread across the five states who have not received any vaccination in this time and age when the vaccines are freely available.

“This calls for emergency action on our part to ensure these children are located and vaccinated to ensure they thrive and live to achieve their maximum potential.

“Vaccines are available all year round in the health facilities. We need to mobilise families, including fathers, to ensure their children are vaccinated in line with the directive of health workers in our health facilities.”

The Country Representative, who was represented by Juliet Chiluwe, UNICEF Chief Field Officer, Enugu, stated that the number “must be reduced by, at least, 30 per cent before the end of the year through our concerted efforts,” adding that Nigeria had a long way to go towards achieving the well-being of women and children.

According to him, the rate of anaemia in pregnant women in the Southeast states stood at an alarming range of 48 per cent to 61 per cent and needed to be urgently arrested and reversed.

In the Southeast region, a low prevalence was observed in the practice of initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth and maintaining exclusive breastfeeding for six months, ranging from 13 per cent to 41 per cent, as he mentioned.

“It is even declining in Imo, Abia, and Anambra states. Statistics showed a higher downward trend of 13 per cent, 19 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

“The role of exclusive breastfeeding in the reduction of infant deaths and accelerating growth of the baby, and benefits to the family, the community, and the nation cannot be overemphasised.

“If there is only one Sustainable Development Goals’ target that Nigeria can easily achieve, it is that of birth registration (SDG16. Indicator 9), but unfortunately, this is also declining in almost all the states.

“About 1.25 million children in the South-east are expected to be registered this year, but less than 10 per cent of this has been achieved so far,” he said.



    Munduate assured UNICEF would maintain its collaboration with traditional leaders to enhance the adoption of antenatal and postnatal care, skilled birth attendance, and child immunization at sub-national levels.

    “UNICEF values her collaboration with the Government of Nigeria to promote the well-being of the citizens of the country.

    “Working with traditional leaders to address these issues discussed will help the zone and the country move towards the SDGs,” he said.

    He, therefore, called on the traditional leaders to mobilise their people to demand service from the health facilities and hold the health authorities in their communities accountable for quality service delivery.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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