More than 900,000 children below the ages of five will be vaccinated with the Inactivated Polio Virus 2 vaccine in Cross River State, South-south Nigeria.
Also, more than 300,000 pregnant women are expected to receive essential supplements with the commencement of another round of Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week 2021.
The wife of the governor, Dr. Linda Ayade launched the IPV 2 vaccination and health week at Bogobiri, the most populous Hausa–Fulani settlement in the heart of Calabar, the capital city.
Dr. Ayade, who also administered Vitamin A supplements and distributed long-lasting Insecticide Treated Nets to pregnant women present at the occasion, said “every mother, pregnant or nursing, must take advantage of this one week free healthcare services. They have to come out and make sure that the children and they themselves get immunized.
“It is important that these mothers ensure that they and their children are up-to-date on immunization because if they have one and miss another it is as good as not having it at all. So, if they have had any immunization in the past, they should come out enmass and take part in this exercise”.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu in her remark, encouraged the Hausa–Fulani women to present their children for the polio vaccines, which would be administered to six weeks old children and 14 weeks old children across the state.
“We are determined to reach every woman in Cross River State with the IPV 2 vaccines. We are gradually phasing out oral polio vaccines for the injectable. For the past 10 years, there has been no case of polio in Cross River State and at the national level; we have contributed to giving Nigeria its polio free status”, she said.
According to Edu, “as stakeholders in Nigeria’s health sector, our resolve is to once again ensure Nigeria is certified polio free. Although, we do not have any case in the state we need to maintain our polio-free status and we need everyone resident in Cross River State to come on board with us in this fight.
“We did it with COVID-19 vaccination. In fact, Cross River is topping the vaccination chart in Nigeria and we are determined to top the poliovirus vaccination chart as well. We are leaving no stone unturned in this regard”.
She said services such as HIV counselling, testing and malaria testing would be easily accessed at the primary healthcare centres as part of the maternal newborn health week.
The host of the event and Director General of the Cross River Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong described the interventions as high impact exercise due to the desire of stakeholders to create greater access to services particularly within rural communities.
“Our target is to reach 900,000 children and 300,000 nursing and pregnant women with these two interventions. Our health workers are already in the field moving from house-to-house in all the 18 local government areas. Our primary health facilities and posts have been upgraded to accommodate the number of vaccines needed for the exercises and we would not relent”, she said.
On the choice of Bogobiri for the flag-off, the Director General said, “we chose Bogobiri because we thought it would be wise to mark the Sallah with our Muslim brothers and encourage their women to continue to access available healthcare services as well as discuss with their husbands on the need to encourage their wives to make use of the health facilities.
“As part of measures to ensure that we do not record any case of polio, we decided that the IPV 2 be introduced and we are glad that the wife of our Governor, Dr. Linda Ayade has formally launched it in Cross River State. We are hoping that this new vaccine would prevent polio from ever infecting our children in Cross River State and indeed Nigeria”.
The occasion featured the presentation of a Fulani maiden dance by children of the Bogobiri community in Calabar as well as several goodwill messages from national and international health related agencies including messages from the traditional leaders of the host community and Hausa-Fulani people.