" ITREALMS: AVW2022: More awareness needed on value of vaccines says Ebirim - ITREALMS


NPA saves $326.895m from agreement with INTELS - ITREALMS

Sponsored@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news! The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has explained how INTELS Nigeria Limit...

Saturday, April 30, 2022

AVW2022: More awareness needed on value of vaccines says Ebirim - ITREALMS

Interview@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news!

An Abuja-based medical doctor, health promotion specialist and vaccine champion, Dr. Obinna Ebirim has called for more awareness on the values of vaccines in this interview with PAUL ADUNWOKE.


r. Obinna Ebirim

What is Africa Vaccination Week?

Annually, in the last week of April, the African Vaccination Week (AVW) is celebrated. During this week, immunization Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and stakeholders use various medium to raise awareness on the value of vaccines using a selected theme with the ultimate goal of increased access to vaccines, reduced morbidity and lives saved.

The theme for 2022 is “Long Life For All”. This is a call to make vaccines, known to save lives and make people live longer, work for all. We saw recently, how the global COVID-19 vaccination, largely for adults, has helped in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic including the reduced number of deaths.

We have also witnessed how routine childhood vaccination has lead to reduced deaths due to polio, measles, whooping cough, and pneumonia. So, vaccines work for all and vaccines save lives. Nigeria is yet to attain its target immunization coverage rate for vaccines for adults and children, which means that vaccines are yet to work for all Nigerians. Although some gains have been made as the immunization coverage rate has increased, key milestone reached in global polio eradication, greater religious and traditional leader’s participation and influence in reducing vaccine rumours and hesitancy, and immunization systems more strengthened.

What are the challenges facing vaccination programmes in Nigeria?

It is the demand and supply-side gaps that still exist that have limited the ability of vaccines to confer long life for all Nigerians. Some religious and traditional beliefs still stop some from accessing vaccination programmes in Nigeria. The health facilities where vaccines are administered are sometimes far away from where people reside with poverty limiting ability to pay transportation and limited programme funds limiting ability to hold outreaches in which vaccines are administered in residential communities, closest to the people. There is still gap in the required number of cold chain equipments, which limits the amount of vaccines that can be properly stored in a manner that it is readily available at the last mile. These led to stick outs, ran outs and missed opportunities even when the public overcome all odds to demand for vaccines.

Also, vaccine procurement is largely financed by loans and donors support due to inadequate domestic vaccine financing. We are yet to achieve our local vaccine production goal although efforts are ongoing including the recent attainment of the maturity level 3 regulatory authority by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the launch in September 2021 of the Nigeria Vaccine Policy. Local Vaccine Production will build local vaccine research and development capacity, create more jobs and remove international transport and logistics cost in Nigerian vaccine financing. There are other issues limiting vaccine access to all including gaps in required human resources, capacity and technical ability and quality assurances.

What are your recommendations for successful vaccine programmes in Nigeria?

As we mark this African Vaccination Week, we commend the government of Nigeria and immunization partners for the successes attained in the immunization programme so far while calling them to do more to ensure access to vaccines for all Nigerians who need them such that we attain our vaccination coverage rates, more lives are saved and Nigerians will live longer. We must be intentional in breaking the existing vaccination inequities and ensure that vaccines work for all irrespective of gender, class, educational status or geographic location in Nigeria.

What is your advice to all Nigerians?

Getting vaccinated and vaccinating your children is a responsible thing to do. Vaccination protects self and others in the community. Thus, during this African Vaccination Week, Nigerians are called upon to get vaccinated and vaccinate their children as at when due.

Vaccines are safe and pass through a rigorous process before being approved for human use. Overtime, you can see that the false predictions and rumours of mass death, infertility, chips and others being spread by anti-vaccine groups and persons never came to pass as vaccinated persons are still alive and thriving. Do not believe them but get vaccinated today because vaccines save lives, improve longitivity, improve cognitive development, saves cost of treating vaccine-preventable diseases and protects your community. Get vaccinated today.

No comments: