The Nigerian Medical Association has called on the Federal Government to ensure availability of measles vaccines and expand its coverage around the country in order to prevent a possible outbreak.
In a recent interview, the President of NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile, urged FG to intensify processes which will prevent measles outbreaks in states where cases were recently recorded.
In his words, “Measles is a disease that can be controlled by immunization. To tackle the disease, we have to improve on our immunization coverage. We have always stated the importance of having a stable primary health care management”.
“We need to also ensure that the primary health care is functional. If the primary health care system is functional and our children are immunized appropriately, most of these cases will be taken care of. The national immunization day represents a fire brigade approach and this is an area where government should look into,” he further stated.
A 2017 national survey had put vaccination coverage of measles at 41.8 per cent between 2016 and 2017, which is less than average, showing that most children who don’t have readily available means to immunization are prone to breaking down with measles and other vaccine preventable diseases.
According to Faduyile, to expand the coverage of immunization to areas where there is insecurity, the Federal Government must draft security operatives to work with immunization officers and provide security to enable them to carry out vaccination in areas affected by insurgency.
He said, “We need to start providing security for immunization officers so that they can reach out to children and people in the areas where there is insurgency. Community mobilization is equally important. If the communities are made aware of the importance of immunization and the implication of not having it, they will find a way to get immunized.”
“The problem is that nothing has been done to make the system work seamlessly. That is why we said that the primary health care system should be strengthened. Once we achieve that, there won’t be outbreaks of diseases and reported cases any longer,” he concluded.