The routine measles vaccination administered to children from ages nine months to five years organized by the federal government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and partners will be held in Enugu State from March 13 until March 25.
Briefing journalists in Enugu on the measles vaccination campaign, the Enugu State commissioner for health, Dr. Fintan Ekochin, said: “Measles is an infectious disease caused by measles virus.”
He noted that measles has been eradicated in most parts of the world whereas the reverse is the case in Nigeria. “It’s the challenge we have. The only way to eradicate measles is through routine immunization. If not done properly, certain old diseases would slap you in the face.”
According to him, the Enugu State government has released the sum of N12.5 million as counterpart fund, adding that the World Health Organization is offering some assistance as well.
The commissioner said that about 536,486 children within the nine-month and five-year age bracket are being targeted. He disclosed that Enugu State has about four million children which is about 17 percent of the state’s population. “To reach them, we have set dates for the immunization to cover the whole 17 local government areas in the State. There are fixed locations. Fixed posts were selected, these include schools, traditional rulers’ palaces and markets. It is not a door to door thing. Efforts were being made to make it a success. If we achieve 96-98 percent, it will be counted as success. We are looking for a campaign that will give us total eradication,” he explained.
The campaign, he said, would be flagged-off in the 17 local government areas of the state on March 12, with the event in Enugu holding at the Uwani Cottage Hospital at 10.00am. He added that there are 714 teams with a target to reach out to 231 wards between 13-25 March 13-25. “We shared it in phases. The first Phase (March 13-18) -Isi Uzo, Ezeagu, Nkanu East, Igbo-Etiti, Uzo-Uwani, Nsukka, Igboeze-North, Igboeze-South and Udenu. The second phase (March 20-25) comprises Udi, Aninri, Awgu, Oji River, Nkanu West, Enugu North, Enugu East and Enugu South,”
The commissioner disclosed that the ministry wants the two phases of the immunization to be completed before schools vacate. He urged parents to make their children between the ages of nine months to 9 years available for the vaccination. “The vaccine is free, safe and effective. Adverse effect could occur when you give measles vaccines, fever might occur and drugs to prevent fever will be given to the children. Let nobody keep saying we had done it before. Once you are a child in this age bracket, you have to take it,” Dr. Ekochin said.
As part of the measures put in place to achieve a successful measles vaccination campaign in the state, the Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency in collaboration with the state’s ministry of health, WHO, UNICEF and other partners on March 5 organized a sensitization meeting for stakeholders in the health sector. Participants got further briefs on their expected roles towards a successful implementation of measles vaccination campaign.
Dr. Ekochin said the sensitization was a precaution against what happened last year when rumors circulated on the social media alleging that vaccines were being administered on children to spread the monkey pox virus, leading to outright rejection of vaccines.
The commissioner explained that the state is ready for the 2018 immunization programme. “Funds are adequate to make this a success,” he said.