By Ayeeshat J Ahmad
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF has said that over 600,000 children were not immunized against childhood killer diseases in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States.
The UNICEF Chief of the Kano Field Office, Rahama Farah who disclosed this during a media briefing on the UNICEF State of the World Children’s (SOWC) 2023: Immunization and Zero Dose situation in Kano Field Office states, said Kano has the highest number with over 300,000 of the children out of the total number which represents 55 per cent.
Farah said the children are scattered across 46 Local Government Areas, LGAs with majorities in Kano, followed by Jigawa and Katsina and mostly in remote and out of reach of normal health system areas.
According to him, “ in UNICEF we are very concerned about the zero dose, number of children not immunized in the three states of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa under the Kano field office. We are concerned because this is the basic fundamental child rights in terms of having access to immunization services. We know that globally, children are dying because they don’t have access to preventable diseases vaccination. And this is a major concern for us in Nigeria and Kano in particular.
“Over 600,000 children who missed first dose of Immunization are in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States. Over 300,000 of the children were in Kano and represents 55 per cent. We have 26 per cent of the children in Jigawa State and 19 per cent in Katsina State.
“We are calling for every community leader, policy makers to put hands together to build a partnership and reduce the high number of children not immunized against the child killer diseases.
“We are calling on the government to increase investment in health system to reach out to the children. They should also invest heavily to ensure robust and strengthening the primary healthcare in the three states. They should integrate immunization as part of health services that are being provided to the communities.
“We also call for community engagement in terms of creating demand and build the confidence on the effectiveness of the vaccines,” Farah however stated.
Justice Watch News reported that UNICEF Health Specialist, Abimbola Aman-Olaniyo said children who are not immunized are vulnerable to preventable diseases and prone to outbreaks as she linked situation to the recent Diphtheria outbreak in Kano state and Celebrospinal meningitis in Jigawa state.
She said the fund plans to reach 250,985 children in Kano, 154,768 and 94,060 children in Katsina and Jigawa States respectively for the year 2023 to reduce the zero dose children.
Meanwhile, the UNICEF Communication Specialist, Samuel Kaalu called on the caregivers to embrace immunization as it has been proven to be essential, cost effective to prevent diseases and reduce childhood killer diseases.