BORNO TO IMMUNISE 1.7 MILLION CHILDREN AS MEASLES CLAIMS 13 CHILDREN

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Jutha Gupah, Maiduguri, March 21, 2019

The Director of Disease Control for Borno State Primary Health Care Agency (BSPHCA), Babagana Abiso; has said that 1.7 million children are to be immunized against measles. According to him, 4,693 children were already affected by the airborne disease that claimed 13 lives. Abiso disclosed this on Thursday in Maiduguri, while briefing reporters on how to contain further spread of measles to 25 Local Government Areas. “Thirteen councils are most affected by measles in 33 wards,” he said, adding that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) will provide technical support for the 10-day immunization exercise. Continuing, he said: “The vaccination exercise will be conducted in two phases, commencing March 21-25, 2019 in eight wards of Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC).” The second phase, according to him, is slated for April 6-10, 2019 in 25 wards of 12 Local Government Areas of Borno. He said that the targeted children to be vaccinated are between the ages of six months and 10 years. According to him; “Immunisation remains one of the most effective ways to protect children from killer diseases. He said that the vaccination exercise provides an opportunity to children against the killer disease. This provides us the opportunity to protect the lives of children at risk of missing out on routine immunization,” said Abiso. According to the Nigeria 2017 Demographic Health Survey, only 65 percent of eligible Nigerian children receive their first dose of measles vaccine every year. He explained that “routine vaccination” for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns, remains a key public health strategy to reduce measles deaths. The UNICEF, Chief of Field Office, Geoffrey Ijumba also said the agency will continue to support the Government of Nigeria to reach every child with the measles vaccine. He urged everyone to ensure that all eligible children access the vaccine during the immunization campaigns. According to him, measles is the most contagious infections known to humans and ranks among the top four childhood killers worldwide. He said the vaccine will be administered free-of-charge in all mosques, villages, IDP camps and health facilities, targeting all children under the age of ten in high-risk areas. Coordinator for WHO in Borno state, Dr. Audu Idawo noted: “Despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines, Nigeria accounts for the highest burden of measles globally, with 3.3 million unimmunized children.”

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