A Press Statement by Health Equity Nigeria
Some of the common childhood killer diseases are pneumonia, measles, malnutrition, neonatal tetanus and tuberculosis. They are all avoidable and can be prevented through immunization and provision of nutritional supplements like Vitamin A. Other vaccine-preventable diseases include polio, whooping cough, hepatitis, diphtheria and neonatal tetanus. Polio may have low mortality rate but can be very debilitating and prevents children and by extension societies from achieving their full potentials.
Nigeria is one of the 3 countries in the world that is yet to eradicate polio virus; the other two are Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nigeria also one of the highest infant and under-five mortality rates globally. The federal government has made commitment to intensify efforts to eradicate polio in the country possibly by 2015. During National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs), states provide counterpart funds to ensure the distribution and administration of vaccines to children in their homes or schools. This activity helps to provide herd immunity and protect the child from the vaccine-preventable diseases. It has been demonstrated to save lives of many children in Nigeria.
Our attention has been drawn to the non-participation of Ebonyi State in the on-going National Immunization Plus Days. The state is allegedly not interested in providing counterpart funding to facilitate the NIPD process. We are very concerned by this development as it would make Ebonyi children vulnerable to childhood killer diseases. It may also reverse the gains made so far in the effort of the Government of Nigeria to eradicate polio in the country. Although cases of polio are predominant in the northern part of the country, relocation of people from the crisis-ridden northeast to other parts of the country makes every state vulnerable.
More so, Ebonyi State has the highest cases of childhood malnutrition and performs low in many other health indices in the Southeast. Most of the residents of the state live in rural areas many of which lack access to orthodox health service delivery. Failure to participate in the NIPD will prevent many Nigerian children resident in Ebonyi State from getting immunized. This, in our opinion, is most unfair to the innocent children and dis-service to the country.
We strongly encourage the Government of Ebonyi State to reconsider its position and act swiftly to save the children. We also call on the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu; who incidentally hails from the state; the State House of Assembly, National Assembly and all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the governor to do the needful as soon as possible in the interest of the country. The human right of the Nigerian Child resident in Ebonyi State is being trampled upon by the state government. Time to ACT is NOW! May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Health Equity Nigeria (HEN) is a coalition of youth-led organizations in Nigeria. We believe that every Nigerian should have access to best possible quality of preventive and curative health care services no matter where the person lives or socioeconomic status. We use various media platforms to advocate for improved health access to ensure health equity in Nigeria.
Dr Laz Ude Eze, MPH, CPH
Executive Team Lead, Health Equity Nigeria
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