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Insecurity has threatened wellbeing of Nigerian children – PAN

The Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) yesterday decried the insecurity in the land, saying it has threatened the wellbeing of children as they are denied…

The Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) yesterday decried the insecurity in the land, saying it has threatened the wellbeing of children as they are denied immunisation coverage while facing malnutrition.

The President of PAN, Dr Ekanem Ekure, also decried the low vaccine coverage in the country, which she put at less than 25 per cent, saying many children were dying of many vaccine-preventable diseases.

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She spoke in Lagos while briefing newsmen during the ongoing National Immunisation Champions Workshop organised in collaboration with the International Paediatric Association (IPA) to drive the “Paediatric Association’s Advocacy for Immunisation Priorities”.

Naveen Thacker, President of IPA, who was in Nigeria for the workshop, stated that the association carried out similar programmes in other countries, noting that the association was committed to helping Nigeria to tackle the low immunisation coverage.

Naveen Thacker, President of IPA, a global body with over 1m members globally, was in Nigeria for the workshop.

Three participants were selected each from the 36 states of the federation and the FCT who are expected to raise vaccine awareness, drive demand for vaccines and correct negative perceptions about existing vaccines in the country.

During the briefing, one of the facilitators from the North West part of the country, lamented how insecurity and banditry has denied children of immunization with many of them dying of vaccine preventable diseases.

The facilitator who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “In the North-West, there are issues about reaching vulnerable children due to insecurity. There are communities that can’t be accessed due to banditry.

“We have good plans for these children but we are constrained by insecurity in the communities. There is heightened fear of banditry and kidnapping and when you are kidnapped, you are killed if you are unable to pay ransom. Hundreds of health workers have been killed and many health facilities have been closed down because of this insecurity issue.

“We are also experiencing an outbreak of many vaccine preventable diseases. There is the need to plan on reaching those unsecured communities.”

However, the PAN President charged the security agencies to do more in order to save the lives of children who are now threatened due to malnutrition and outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases.

“Security has threatened the wellbeing of Nigerian children. There should be mercy for the children of Nigeria. As an association, we are asking that let us remember these vulnerable children and do whatever we can to help them have access to immunisation and nutrition,” she added.

Ekure stated that at the moment there are potent vaccines that protect against infections, pneumonia, meningitis, cervical cancer, among others.

“We feel really sad that parents are not taking advantage of these free vaccines that have been made available. We therefore appeal to parents to take advantage of these free vaccines that are available including the new HPV Vaccine that helps to prevent cervical cancer,” she added.

President of IPA stated that the association had carried out similar programmes in other countries, saying the association was committed to helping Nigeria to tackle the low immunisation coverage.

“This is a unique training programme. We have the best of experts from around the world in Nigeria to discuss these evidence-based techniques. To support the government of Nigeria, we work with other partners to improve immunization coverage.”

President of Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Professor Rosemary Ogu said, “We are pleased to partner with PAN and IPA to carry out this advocacy for immunization priority. These diseases that are vaccine preventable are still taking lives. We must ensure that our children get vaccinated.”

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