64% of children in Nigeria are not immunized against diseases – NBS report

Sixty-four percent of children aged between 12 and 23 months in Nigeria did not receive all recommended vaccines and are therefore not fully immunized against diseases.

Similarly, 18 percent of children have not received any immunization at all, a new report launched on Tuesday has shown.

The report titled “2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) and National Immunisation Coverage Survey (NICS) which was launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, is the result of a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

The MICS report provides data on child mortality, health, nutrition, education, child and social protection, women’s health care and empowerment, water, sanitation, and hygiene, while NICS assesses vaccination coverage provided through the health systems.

According to the report, Nigeria has made some progress in some sectors, but it noted a significant gap in routine immunization as only 36 percent of children within the age bracket are fully protected against diseases.

The MICS report revealed that one out of every 10 children die before their fifth birthday, even though this presents a decrease from one out of eight children in 2016. The report also pointed out that the benefits of vaccines could only be fully realized when children receive all recommended doses promptly.

The report, however, noted that the 18 percent of children not vaccinated is a relative decrease of 55 percent in 2016. It also revealed that the smallest proportion of children who did not receive any vaccination is found in Enugu at one percent and Ebonyi at zero percent, while the highest percentage is in Sokoto at 51 percent.

The major causes of this low immunization as listed by the report include; fear of side reactions, lack of knowledge or information, service delivery issues, mistrust or fears, and distance to immunization sites, among others.

The report also showed progress in exclusive breastfeeding and birth registration rates – the exclusive breastfeeding rate increased from 24 percent to 34 percent, while nearly 60 percent of Nigerian children are now registered at birth with civil authorities, compared to 47 percent in 2016.

But, the number of newborns who are breastfed within the first hour reduced from three out of ten to two or ten. In addition, child marriage (women married before age 18) has reduced from 44 percent to 30 percent since 2016.

In his keynote address, Osinbajo, who was represented by Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget, and national planning, stressed that improving survival rates among children is dependent on their access to routine immunization. He decried, “Despite the tenacity of primary health care workers conducting routine immunization across the country, we still have low immunization coverage and the largest proportion emanating from the Northern part of the country.”

“The target is to ensure that every child benefits from life-saving vaccines across the country. The outcome of this report will enable the government to strategize and scale up routine immunization to ensure total coverage of the entire population,” he added.

The vice president also said the report would serve as a major source of data and a tool for monitoring the progress of national goals and the global development agenda.

The statistician-general of the federation/CEO NBS, Adeyemi Adeniran said the 2021 Nigeria MICS-NICS report provided evidence-based data for all key stakeholders to prioritize quality services for children and women with higher efficiency and effectiveness. He said the information collated will inform policies aimed at social inclusion of the most vulnerable population, help identify disparities, and allow for international comparability.

“As we build back better from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MICS-NICS survey provides evidence to shape interventions and focus resources in a way that helps children and their families reach their full potential. Using the data to monitor progress towards our collective commitments to children and families, and inform future action is critical if we must leave no one behind,” Adeniran added.

The United Nations resident/humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, who was represented by Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria explained that data is critical for effective budgeting and decision making, explaining that the data from the surveys paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.

“The picture is a mixed one. While there has been some good progress, and we should celebrate that – we still have a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children in Nigeria,” he said.

Credit:Nigeria Health Watch

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