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FG Launches Free RotaVirus Vaccine against Killer Diarrhoea

todayAugust 23, 2022

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•Say initiative will avert over 110,000 child deaths in 10 years

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government has commenced free vaccination of children below one year of age in the country with RotaVirus vaccines.

Global health report showed that Rotavirus is one of the leading causes of diarrhoea disease in the world and is responsible for over 40 per cent of the infection in children.

Speaking at the official national flag-off of Rotavirus vaccine introduction into routine immunisation at Area 2 Primary Health Care Clinic Garki, Abuja, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said approximately 50,000 deaths occur in children under five years in Nigeria annually as a result of Rotavirus infection.

He described Rotavirus as 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.

He said Nigeria has the second highest number of deaths from rotavirus, accounting for 14 per cent of all childhood rotavirus deaths worldwide.

Shuaib said: “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.

“It is projected that while reducing the associated morbidity and mortality from the rotavirus infections, the rotavirus vaccine introduction has the potential to avert over 110,000 deaths over a 10-year period.”

On the nature of the immunisation exercise, Shuaib said the vaccine would be given orally and would be administered concurrently with the existing Routine Immunisation (RI) vaccines at six weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks respectively.

He added only children of one year and below could administered the vaccine.

According to the NPHCDA boss, the vaccine would be integrated with other diarrhoea preventive strategies, such as, “exclusive 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.”

He urged parents and caregivers to take their eligible children to the nearest Primary Health Care Center for the vaccine and other routine vaccines that are in the system until their children are fully vaccinated.

He maintained that Rotavirus vaccine was free, safe and effective at preventing diarrhoea disease caused by the Rotavirus.

The launch coincided with the flag off of the African Vaccination Week which is a week-long affair that improves access to basic Primary Health Care Services, routine immunisation, COVID-19 vaccination, deworming, Vitamin A supplementation, medical outreach services to our teaming rural populations.

In his statement at the event, the World Health Organisation  (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo  said the introduction of the Rotavirus vaccine provides the opportunity to reduce the number of children dying every day from diarrhoea disease.

He said the public health impact of rotavirus vaccine introduction had been demonstrated in several countries with as much as 50 per cent deaths from diarrhoea diseases averted in some.

Mulombo advised that the introduction of the vaccine should be part of a comprehensive strategy to control diarrhoea diseases with the scaling up of both preventive and treatment packages.

According to him, Nigeria stands to have enormous gains from the economic impact of the introduction of free Rotavirus vaccine.

The commemoration of the African Vaccination Week with its team ‘Long Life for All” was intended to provide a platform to increase awareness on the importance and values of immunisation and its life saving potential.

A Pediatrician and professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr. Becky Tagbo who recounted the health risk being faced by Nigerian children before the introduction the vaccine, said the prevalence of Rotavirus were as high as 70 per cent.

In her remark, the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ramatu Tijani said there has been a remarkable improvement in health statistics in the city, following its earlier poor rating on basic hygiene indices.

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