Kwara state vaccinates 700,000 children against measles

By Tunde Akanbi, Ilorin

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Over 700,000 children in Kwara State have been vaccinated in the 2023 measles campaign across the 16 local government areas of the state.

The Executive Secretary, Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Nusirat Elelu, disclosed this at the 40th Media Parliament of the state council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), held at Press Centre in Ilorin.

Speaking at the event themed “Transforming Primary Health Care Beyond Lip Service,” Elelu said the vaccination effort has helped to build immune system of a number of children to combat measles.

She noted that there was no report of outbreak of circulating variant polio virus (cVPV) in almost 24 months while the state was previously with the highest cVPV report in 2019.

Elelu added that, “The state has made significant improvement in vaccination, leading its peers in the North Central Geopolitical zone.

“Kwara continues on a positive trajectory to improve its vaccination coverage, with a rate of 66.5 percent, one of the top three in North Central. This is a tremendous improvement as our coverage of under one year old vaccinated in 2016 stood at 33.9 percent.

“Kwara State was moved out of immunization zero-dose state in the country, thus paving the way for an improved routine immunization coverage,” the executive secretary of the state primary health care development agency said.

On COVID-19, Elelu said the state emerged overall best in the country for vaccination against the killer virus, adding that it was also named among the five states to achieve over 80 percent vaccination coverage.

“Our innovative public health strategy during the COVID-19 vaccine introduction brought about the establishment of mass vaccination sites in the state Ministry of Health premises and market places long before it was recommended by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

“This led to Kwara State doubling the number of vaccinated individuals from 42 percent to 82 percent within six months and also one of the top five performing states in the country,” she added.

The KWSPHCDA scribe maintained that the state this year, provided free tablets of haematinic and anti-malaria drugs to 300,000 pregnant women across the 16 local government areas, thus surpassing the ANRiN 2023 target.

“This achievement has led to a huge reduction from 1,508 to 570 pregnant women reported with severe anaemia.

“We also carried out other nutrition sensitive interventions such as community food demonstration, child growth monitoring and nutrition counselling,” she said.

Elelu disclosed that Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had approved a work plan developed to utilize $500,000 cash award to Kwara as the best in Primary Health Care in the North Central for upgrade of additional primary health care centres and service improvement.

She noted that the fund would be spent through the UNICEF accountability mechanism.

The executive secretary stated that local government areas would also be recognized with cash awards based on already developed performance framework at the end of the year.

Elelu disclosed that the state government had completed rehabilitation of 25 primary health care centres across the state with others at different stages of renovation.

In his remarks, the Chairman, state council of NUJ, Abdullateef Lanre Ahmed, identified primary health as a critical component in the health sector, which requires adequate funding and healthy relationship with development partners to aid medical supplies for the benefit of the people, especially at the grassroots, who visit public health facilities the most.

“It is incumbent on the Kwara State government to always earmark substantial budgetary provision for basic health and health sector in general for procurement of equipment and medical supplies with a view to restoring masses confidence in government-owned health institutions,” he said.