Poor vaccine storage threatens immunization in Gombe

Rebecca Muazu, Gombe

Save the Children International has drawn the attention of stakeholders in Gombe State to dwindling cold storage facilities for vaccines.

This observation comes as World Immunization Week for 2017 is being marked.

Speaking during a two-day advocacy tour of Billiri and Funakaye Local Government Areas, the Advocacy and Communication Officer of Save the Children in Gombe Field Office, Mr. Akpan Effiong, said the call became necessary because of the growing decrease in the number of cold chain facilities in the two areas.

It was discovered that in both Billiri and Funakaye Local Government Areas, that only 23 cold chain equipments out of 48, were functional in the two local government areas, which were causing a lot of setbacks in immunization coverage in those areas.

Save the Children said only 7 out of the 16 cold chain in Billiri were functional, while only 16 out of the 32 were functional in Funakaye.

Mr. Effiong called on the communities, especially the Ward Development Committees, to develop ways to ensure the facilities’ maintenance, for one hundred per cent potency of the vaccines when administered during immunization days.

It was also discovered that minor repairs that may not cost up to five thousand naira to ten thousand Naira, on solar panels of the cold chain and other accessories, were neglected.

The communities were called to mobilize funds by themselves rather than allowing Government or donor agencies to help out, because it was the only effective way to ensure that potent vaccines were administered to the children.

However, in Funakaye Local Government Area, there was the record of 83 per cent compliance level of immunization, but Billiri recorded only 54 per cent compliance level.

Records also show that Billiri, Funakaye and two other Local Government Areas out of the 11 Local Government Areas in the State could not meet up with the 90 per cent targeted coverage.

Emergency meeting

Worried by its low performance and the dilapidated state of the cold chains in the area,  the Chairman of Billiri Local Government Area, Honourable Farouk Dankuka who was represented by his Deputy, Mrs. Margaret Modi, directed all the ten wards in the area to immediately call for an emergency meeting, towards resolving the problems concerning immunization in the area.

According to the Vice Chairman, “this situation is unacceptable, we can’t condone this with our level of enlightenment, we must own the programme through whatever means. I urge you to increase awareness campaigns in your various wards”.

However, in Bage Community in Funakaye Local Government Area, it was learnt that the WDC was able to realize not less than N1.4 million through community efforts in tackling its developmental problems, in which the issue of cold chain was top most.

The Deputy Chairman of Funakaye LGA, Honourable Ibrahim Galadima who represented the Chairman, Honourable Ibrahim Yusuf Bajoga called for continuous collaboration between the Primary Health Care Department of the Local Government and the WDC’s for maximum success in the immunization programme.

He, however, regretted the lack of qualified manpower in the health sector of the Local Government Area but advised that volunteers be engaged from the Ward Development Committees, especially during immunization days.

The theme for the 2017 week is “Vaccines Work”.