The World Health Organisation (WHO) says a total of 6.2 million children in Nigeria did not receive a single dose of life-saving vaccines from 2019 to 2021. WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who spoke during a media roundtable on Africa Vaccination Week, advised government to reach children who missed vaccinations to restore and strengthen routine immunisation programmes.
Moeti, represented by Country Representative, Dr. Walter Mulombo, said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on routine immunisation services has driven up the number of zero-dose and under-immunised children, rising by 16 percent between 2019 and 2021 and pushing the cumulative total (2019–2021) in Africa to around 33 million, which represents nearly half the global estimate.
In the Africa, WHO estimates show the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on routine immunisation has driven up the number of zero-dose and children not immunized, rising by 16 per cent between 2019 and 2021, and pushing the cumulative total (2019–2021) to 33 million, representing nearly half the global estimate. “An estimated 33 million children will need to be vaccinated in Africa between 2023 and 2025 to put the continent back on track to achieve the 2030 global immunisation goals that include reducing morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“In Nigeria, WHO estimates in 2019 to 2021, 6.2 million children are zero-dose; a consequence of the negative impact of COVID-19. There were 2.2 million zero-dose children in 2021 alone. “We will introduce the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine in November. We need to work towards that because the burden of cervical cancer in Nigeria is huge and unacceptable. “HPV vaccination is going to save a lot of lives, millions of lives in the future. We cannot miss that opportunity. We shouldn’t behave the way we are behaving with trans-fat, tobacco products or sugary drinks; we know they are harmful but still we are watching.”
However, Moeti has assured that WHO is supporting Nigeria’s full participation in the Regional Working Group for Catch-up to ensure effective planning and resource mobilization for the 20 countries with a high burden of zero-dose children in the region.