In a bid to reduce death in children under the age of five, the Federal Government on Monday, launched the Rotavirus vaccine, a Routine Immunisation Schedule.
Speaking during the flag off, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, noted that the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), is expected to avert about 110,000 deaths in children under the age of five in the next 10 years.
Represented by the Director of Public Health, Dr Morenike Alex-Okoh, Dr Ehanire said, it was unfortunate that ninety percent of deaths occur in developing countries including Nigeria.
He stressed the importance Rotavirus vaccine in the country saying, the government with support of donors and partners, especially GAVI has spent huge amounts to fulfil routine immunization vaccines for the Nigerian children.
“The vaccine is of great importance as it will avert the death rate related to diarrhoea for about 10 years.
Ehanire who was represented by the Director of Public Health, Dr Alex Okoh, further disclosed that
“The Government of Nigeria with the support of donors and partners, especially GAVI has spent huge amounts to fulfil routine immunization vaccines for the Nigerian children.
“This is because improving the health of Nigerian children remains a priority for this administration.
“We therefore ask parents and caregivers to leverage on this privilege to enable that their children are vaccinated against all vaccine preventable diseases”.
“Also for those who are PHC leaders at the sub-national level, and all healthcare workers across 40,000 PHC facilities for doggedness in ensuring that no Nigerian child is left behind in accessing potent vaccines and other services”, Ehanire said.
On his part, the Executive Director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency(NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib explained that Introduction of Rotavirus vaccine is a big investment due to its substantial economic impact and number of lives that the country is going to save from the introduction.
“The vaccine is going to be given orally and will be administered concurrently with the existing Routine Immunization (RI) vaccines at 6weeks, 10weeks and 14weeks respectively.
While commending the minister, traditional and religious leaders, health workers for their constant effort in ensuring the children are vaccinated,Dr Shuaib added that the vaccine will be integrated with other diarrheal preventive strategies.
He said: “As you are already aware, Rotavirus is one of the leading causes of diarrheal disease in the world and is responsible for over 40% of diarrhoea in children. It is the most frequent cause of severe diarrhoea, accounting for about 215,000 of the global 525,000 under-5 mortality attributed to diarrheal diseases each year.
“Nigeria has the second highest number of deaths from rotavirus, accounting for 14% of all childhood rotavirus deaths worldwide. Annually, approximately 50,000 deaths occur in children under five years in Nigeria as a result of rotavirus infection.
“The vaccine is going to be given orally and will be administered concurrently with the existing Routine Immunization (RI) vaccines at six weeks, ten weeks and 14 weeks respectively.
“The vaccine will be integrated with other diarrheal preventive strategies, such as xclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life;Vitamin A supplementation;Handwashing;sanitation, and other key household practices;Case management including the use of zinc- ORS to prevent dehydration, continued feeding, and treatment services for diarrhea and other childhood diseases.”
The NPHCDA urged parents and caregivers to take their eligible children to the nearest Primary Health Care Center tobemsure that their children are fully vaccinated.
Also, the Country Representative of the World Health Organization, Dr Walter Kazadi Molumbo in his goodwill message said, the introduction of Rotavirus Vaccine provides the opportunity to reduce the number of children dying every day from diarrhoea disease caused by rotavirus.
He advised that the introduction should be part of a comprehensive strategy to control diarrhoeal diseases with the scaling up of both preventive and treatment packages.