Ramatu Tijjani-Aliyu, FCT Minister of State
By: Reginald Uhegbu
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has introduced a new vaccine for treatment of rota virus into the routine immunisation schedule in the Territory.
The rota vaccine is for the highly contagious virus that causes severe diarrheal disease amongst infants and children all over the world, which is accounting for about 215,000 deaths of the global 525,000 under 5 mortality attributed to the diarrheal disease each year.
Speaking at the launch of the new vaccine into the Nigeria immunization schedule, the FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani-Aliyu assured that the FCT Administration will continue to support all programmes and activities geared towards improving the quality of lives and health of all residents of the Territory, particularly women and children to ensure the reversal of the high numbers of preventable maternal and child deaths in the FCT.
The Minister was represented at the occasion by the Secretary, FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), Dr. Abubakar Tafida.
Similarly, the Minister said that although 480 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Africa to date, which makes it the biggest vaccine rollout in the history of the continent, but that only 18.7% of the African population is fully vaccinated, thereby lagging woefully behind in the global average of 58 percent.
This trend, she said requires massive awareness campaign on the need for Africans to accept COVID-19 vaccination in order to secure her immunity against the disease.
Dr. Tijjani-Aliyu was, however, delighted to announce that a snap chat of data on FCT findings in the report of 2021/2022 Nigeria multiple indicator cluster survey (MICS) and National Immunisation Coverage survey(NICS) shows that FCT performed better than most states of the North Central zone and with some figures even better than Zonal and national average, as FCT recorded 61 percent, which is above the national average of 36 percent in coverage of fully immunized children, while the Territory also scored 57.6 percent as against National average of 39 percent in modern family planning prevalence.
The Territory, she also said surpassed the national average of 60.4 percent in attendance at antenatal care by scoring 76.2 percent and also scored 70 percent in skilled birth attendance in the facility, well above the national average of 50.7 percent.
The Minister pointed out that despite the good performance of FCT in most indices, the performance is still below the minimum acceptable targets and demanded for more efforts.
She went on to say that the FCT Administration’s preparation for the launch of the rota virus vaccine into the country’s routine immunisation schedule was to complement the effort of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency by ensuring that the FCT has adequate capacity for the new vaccine introduction and that the gaps in the storage capacity and cold chain equipment for the new vaccine have been addressed across the public and private health facilities offering routine immunisation in the FCT.
The launch, the Minister assured will herald a cascade of activities that will boost primary health care services delivery and routine immunisation coverage particularly in the underserved, low performing settlements in the FCT that will be adopted for the integrated medical outreach and routine immunization intensification activities.
In his own remark, the Secretary, HHSS, Dr. Abubakar Tafida said that rota virus vaccine will be administered orally to eligible children at 6weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks of age at the same time as pentavalent vaccines and noted that a phased ‘Men A’ catch up campaign will be conducted in Nigeria within 8 to 12 weeks of introduction of the vaccine.
Tafida further informed that the introduction of rota virus vaccines was estimated to help reduce morbidity and mortality in under-five children from acute diarrheal disease by as much as 40 percent and hoped that it will afford children in the FCT the opportunity to access the important lifesaving intervention free of charge at every health facility in the FCT including privately owned health facilities.