Insecurity Preventing Northern Children From Immunisation – Sultan
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has expressed concern over the inability of northern children to access immunisation due to insecurity and other factors.
The sultan yesterday in Kaduna chaired a strategic meeting with traditional leaders and development partners to chart a way forward.
The meeting, organised by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in collaboration with the Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development, discussed the challenges preventing northern children from accessing immunisation services.
In attendance were representatives of the United Children Trust Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), Kaduna State Deputy Governor Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe and other stakeholders.
The sultan reiterated the traditional institution’s commitment toward ensuring that communities benefit from routine immunisation.
He said the meeting was “to discuss with traditional leaders ways to reach out to totally inaccessible and displaced communities of Kaduna, Niger and Katsina states to ensure that every child in the north is immunised because it is one of our duties as traditional leaders.
“We do not lack support from our people, what we lack is implementation and that is why the north is lagging behind in immunization.”
The Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Sama’ila Muhammad Mere, who is the chairman of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care, said the need to convene this meeting arose from the situation report received by the first quarter NTLC review meeting from Zamfara.
According to him, “In his report to the meeting, the Zamfara State NTLC representative stated that the devastating security situation in the state has made access to many communities and children difficult or impossible creating a risk of outbreak of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, especially the mutated vaccine-derived polio virus.
“Zamfara currently has the highest burden of the disease in the country and the strain of the virus from the state has been found in 28 states in Nigeria and 29 countries across Africa. Following detailed discussions of the report from Zamfara, the meeting noted that similar security situations also exist in Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.”
He noted the meeting will take situation reports and mitigation suggestions from 48 districts of 34 LGAs from Kaduna, Niger, and Katsina states and urged the district heads to speak sincerely about the situation in their areas of administration and suggest how best they think the government and development partners can work with them to ensure that every child and mother is reached with a vaccine and desired medical support.”
Executive Director, NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, commended the traditional rulers for their invaluable support in the eradication of circulating variant polio virus (cVPV2) from their communities.
He said their influence has the power to shape the destiny of communities and ask for their partnership in securing a healthier and brighter future for northern children.
“The battle against cVPV2 requires a united front – a bond between traditional, religious and local leaders, health workers, parents, and every citizen who dreams of a polio-free future,” he said.
In his remarks, WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, said Nigeria recorded 51 polio cases between January and August 13, 2023, from 15 LGAs, as reported by the WHO.
He said out of these cases, 47 (92%) were concentrated in the North West region, adding that the circulating variant polio virus type 2 (cVPV2) had decreased by 63% compared to 2022.
He said these cases were largely concentrated in states facing security challenges, specifically in Kaduna state, 19 LGAs with 111 wards that had insecure settlements, posing a risk to progress.