Some health sector experts on Thursday renewed calls for stronger government and private sector collaboration to ensure effective and comprehensive routine immunisation in Nigeria.
Prof. Oyewale Tomori, the Chairman, Expert Review Committee on Polio and Routine Immunisation, made the call at Nigeria HealthWatch Forum, a 2-day event on Epidemics and Immunisation.
He said Nigerians should take advantage of available vaccines to immunise and protect themselves from ailments.
Tomori noted that the theme for the forum, “Stronger Together: Community Engagement to Influence Behavioural Change”, would help solve major immunisation problems in the country.
He described immunisation as the only defence against diseases, saying “Nigerians should rise to imbibe this culture and stay healthy”.
According to him, immunisation hugely reduces the risks of getting infected during disease outbreaks.
“If there is a disease outbreak, only those not vaccinated will be at risk of getting infected, all those who have been vaccinated will be protected,” he said.
The chairman called for effective use of already generated data to educate the public about health risk areas in the country.
“For instance, the Lassa fever outbreak in 2018 did not mean that it has never been there, but we were able to monitor it because there is better surveillance system.
“If we hadn’t taken information and data the previous year, we wouldn’t have known that it had been worse in the past,” he said.
On her part, Mrs Elsie Ilori, a Deputy Director, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said that immunisation remained the key to a healthy nation.
Ilori stressed the need for parents to immunise their children at the right time to protect them from infections.
“When parents immunise their children at the right time, the possibility of the children to come down with the disease becomes very minimal.
“Even if they come down with the disease, it will not be fatal,” she said.
Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor, the Chief Executive Officer, EpiAFRIC, an NGO, stated that government had made tremendous efforts towards making vaccines available to the citizenry.
Nsofor said that for 2019, the government has earmarked N21 billion for vaccine procurement.
He said that more effort was still needed from the government to drive the course of achieving comprehensive immunisation forward.
Nsofor said that about N106 billion was needed annually for vaccine procurement, saying “government needs to evolve more innovative ways of tackling vaccine procurement”.
He urged the government to critically look into the issue of health insurance as a way of pilling resources together for effective service delivery.