Posted on: Tue 20-02-2024

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) is working in collaboration with the federal government towards tackling the burden of zero-dose children in the country.

Dr Hadley Ikwe, Senior Immunization Specialist, Global Immunization Division of US CDC in Nigeria, disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Abuja.

He said zero-dose children were children who were yet to receive any vaccines on the routine immunization schedule.

He explained that, “They are measured by the number of children who have not received the first dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines.”

He said Nigeria accounted for the highest burden of zero-dose children globally with 2.3 million zero-dose children, noting that only about 57 per cent of eligible children in Nigeria were fully vaccinated as of 2021.

He further said, “Zero-dose children are susceptible to many diseases. The introduction and spread of disease within a community can cause epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, diphtheria, measles, and yellow fever.”

He noted that Nigeria’s vaccination programmed had identified 100 priority high-burden LGAs and states to target zero-dose reduction efforts and also strengthen Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) through the Health Sector Revitalization Initiative.

He said US CDC was directly supporting the government in select geographies through intensified investments in immunization between 2023 and 2028, targeting high-burden zero-dose LGAs in second tier LGAs in Niger and Zamfara, particularly in security-compromised, hard-to-reach and missed communities

He further said the organization would use innovative integrated strategies, including better microplanning with Geographic Information Systems maps and also build capacity and workforce development.

The Programmed Director, US CDC Nigeria, Dr Patricia Tanifum, said, “The country has been working to reach these children, but we still have a long way to go. So, the US CDC is contributing very strongly towards reaching these children.”

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sydani Group, Sidney Sampson, said the group was happy to partner and support the efforts of the US CDC to ensure every child was reached with required doses.