By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

As the world commemorates World Immunization Week, Save the Children International in Nigeria urged governments and stakeholders at all levels to accelerate actions toward reducing and ending death from vaccine preventable diseases.

SCI in a statement issued yesterday said available data revealed that global vaccination rates have dropped to levels not seen in a decade, with 3.5 million fewer children receiving vaccines in 2020 compared to 2019.

It said the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the disruption of immunization services, leaving millions of children at greater risk of missing out on critical vaccinations against diseases like measles, mumps, whooping cough, pneumonia, and poliomyelitis.

Save the Children believes that immunization saves millions of lives and it is recognized as one of the world’s most successful health interventions.

Shannon Ward, Interim Country Director, Save the Children International in Nigeria said, “Every child needs to be vaccinated against preventable diseases. These diseases can negatively impact quality of life and cause death. We welcome increased emphasis and training for health workers and community members on the many benefits of immunization.”

This year, World Immunization Week’s (i.e., 24th- 30th April 2022) theme of “Long Life for All” aims to highlight the collective action needed, and to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against vaccine preventable diseases.

This theme is apt as the world gradually recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. This brings us another opportunity to enhance the collaboration of various stakeholders and interest groups including community, religious, and traditional rulers and private sector companies to contribute to improving health for all towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.

Amanuel Mamo, Director of Advocacy, Campaigns, Communication and Media, Save the Children International in Nigeria said, ‘’We urge the Government of Nigeria to support an increase in domestic investment in the health sector to meet with 15% target of the Abuja Declaration (2001) and ensure that health spending improves child health services, including by removing user fees, reducing non-financial barriers to accessing care, and prioritizing primary health services, among others. Focusing on zero-dose children is particularly important because those who are reached with the first vaccine are highly likely to also receive remaining dosages.”

“This week provides us an opportunity to increase public awareness about the importance of every person’s need and rights, including that of children, girls, women and people with disabilities, to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. We call for increased coordination, collaboration with and support of stakeholders and the government to be able to deliver high-quality, timely, free and accessible immunization programmes at all level.”

Save the Children International calls upon the federal and state governments to keep immunization high on their sustainable development agendas as vaccinated communities will be healthy, productive and resilient. Hence, Save the Children supports the need for accelerating vaccine coverage by supporting Gavi’s 2020 replenishment and ensuring investment drives for more equitable vaccination coverage, and to improve vaccine affordability, especially for children and other vulnerable groups.

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