The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 6.2 million Nigerian children are unvaccinated because of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from 2019 to 2021.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at a news conference to celebrate the African Vaccination Week (AVW) and World Immunisation Week.
“We acknowledge current efforts by the government for an 83 per cent reduction in circulating Variant Polio Virus type 2. “Also a significant feat in sustaining certification for the eradication of Wild Polio Virus in Nigeria,’’ she said.
Ms Moeti said an estimated 33 million children would need to be vaccinated in Africa between 2023 and 2025.
According to her, such will put the continent back on track to achieve the 2030 global immunisation goals, including reducing morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“In the Africa region, WHO estimates show that the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on routine immunization services has driven up the number of zero-dose and under-immunised children,” stated the official.
Ms Moeti added, “The effect causes rising by 16 per cent between 2019 and 2021 and pushing the cumulative total (2019–2021) to around 33 million, which represents nearly half the global estimate. In Nigeria, WHO estimates that in 2019 to 2021, 6.2 million children are zero doses, a consequence of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to her, reaching these children will require renewed and intensified efforts by governments and partners.
Ms Moeti explained that to galvanise the commitments required, WHO conducted a high-level event during the African Union Summit in February 2023.
“At the summit, African Heads of State endorsed a declaration aimed at revamping and scaling up routine immunisation across the continent. Also, to implement urgent measures to address persistent bottlenecks in vaccine and health care delivery systems,’’ she said.
The regional director said the day was a global push by WHO and partners to intensify efforts to reach children who missed vaccinations and restore and strengthen routine immunisation programmes.