Nigeria Introduces Rotavirus Vaccines Into Routine Immunisation

The NPHCDA boss noted that the rotavirus vaccine introduction has the potential to avert over 110,000 deaths in 10 years.

The Nigerian government has introduced the Rotavirus vaccine into the existing c.

The development, the government noted, is aimed at reducing the fatalities from diarrhoea caused by the virus.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this Monday during the National flag-off of the vaccine at the Area 2 Primary Health Care (PHC) Clinic, Garki, Abuja.

He noted that the rotavirus vaccine introduction has the potential to avert over 110,000 deaths in 10 years.

He said: “Introduction of the Rotavirus vaccine is a big investment due to its substantial economic impact and the 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.”

The vaccine launch coincides with the commemoration of the African Vaccination Week, “a weeklong affair that improves access to basic PHC services, routine immunisation, COVID-19 vaccination, deworming, Vitamin A supplementation, and medical outreach services to our teeming rural populations.”

Rotavirus in Nigeria

Speaking further, Mr Shuaib explained that as the leading cause of diarrheal disease in the world, Rotavirus is responsible for over 40 per cent of diarrhoea in children and that Nigeria has the second highest number of deaths from the virus.

He explained further that Rotavirus ” is 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% of all childhood rotavirus deaths worldwide.

“Annually, approximately 50,000 deaths occur in children under 5 years in Nigeria as a result of rotavirus infection.”

Routine Immunisation (RI)

The NPHCDA boss also noted that the vaccine is going to be given orally and administered concurrently with the existing RI vaccines at six weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks respectively.

He added that the vaccine will be integrated with other diarrheal preventive strategies.

He mentioned the strategies to include: exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life, Vitamin A supplementation, handwashing, sanitation, and other key household practices.

Mr Shuaib also mentioned case management including the use of zinc- ORS to prevent dehydration, continued feeding, and treatment services for diarrhoea and other childhood diseases.

The NPHCDA boss further noted that the vaccine is free, urging parents to take their eligible children for vaccination.

He said: “I urge our parents and caregivers to take their eligible children to the nearest Primary Health Care Centre for this important vaccine and other routine vaccines that are in the system until their children are fully vaccinated.

“Rotavirus vaccine is free, safe and effective at preventing diarrheal disease caused by the Rotavirus.”

WHO speaks

Also speaking at the flag-off ceremony, the WHO Country Representative, Walter Mulombo, acknowledged that “the introduction of the Rotavirus vaccine provides the opportunity to reduce the number of children dying every day from diarrhoea disease caused by rotavirus.

“The public health impact of rotavirus vaccine introduction has been demonstrated in several countries with as much as 50 per cent deaths from diarrhoeal diseases averted in some.

“The introduction should be part of a comprehensive strategy to control diarrhoeal diseases with the scaling up of both preventive and treatment packages.”

He also emphasised that immunisation remains the most cost-effective public health intervention, adding that the immunisation agenda 2030 and the GAVI 5.0 strategy seek to address this gap by “Leaving no one behind with immunisation”.

He advised that Nigeria should continue to implement these strategies to address gaps in immunisation through the life course and prevent deaths.

“If we stop vaccination, deadly diseases will return, and when people are not vaccinated, infectious diseases that have become uncommon can quickly return,” he said.

African Vaccination week

Speaking on African Vaccination Week, Mr Mulombo said its commemoration with the theme; ‘Long Life for All,” provides the platform to increase awareness of the importance and values of immunisation and its life-saving potential.

“I want to therefore appreciate the Government of Nigeria for the one-week event to mark the 2022 African Vaccination Week.

“The several events/activities will bring the message of immunization to all households and communities while providing the opportunity for all to get vaccinated and receive other high-impact lifesaving interventions,” he said.

He assured of WHO’s continued commitment to providing technical support to the introduction of the Rotavirus Vaccine into Nigeria’s Routine Immunization Schedule and other health interventions.

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