Northern Nigeria’s immunization efforts are hampered by insecurity, says Sultan of Sokoto

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According to Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, instability and other issues make it difficult for children in the North to receive immunizations.

The Sultan, who was in Kaduna on Wednesday, presided over a strategic gathering of traditional leaders and development partners to map out a course for the future. The gathering was organized by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in partnership with the Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development.

The meeting covered the issues that prohibit children in the north from receiving immunizations.

Participants included Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, the deputy governor of Kaduna State, representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Children Trust Fund (UNICEF), as well as other stakeholders.

He stressed the dedication of the established institution to making sure that communities gain from routine immunization.

He claimed that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss with traditional leaders how to reach out to completely inaccessible and displaced villages in the states of Kaduna, Niger, and Katsina in order to guarantee that every child in the north receives immunizations.

“We do not lack the support of our people,” he clarified, “what we lack is implementation, and that is why the north is lagging in immunization.”

The Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care’s chairman, Alhaji Sama’ila Muhammad Mere, the Emir of Argungu, emphasized the need for the meeting was driven by the situation report Zamfara provided at the first quarter NTLC review meeting.

He claims that the Zamfara State NTLC representative stated in his report to the meeting that the state’s terrible security situation has made access to many communities and children difficult or impossible, increasing the risk of an outbreak of diseases that can be prevented by vaccination, particularly the mutated vaccine-derived polio virus.

According to him, Zamfara currently has the highest disease burden in the nation, and the virus strain from the state has been discovered in 28 states in Nigeria and 29 countries in Africa. He also claimed that after in-depth discussions of the Zamfara report, it was noted that similar security circumstances also exist in the states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger.

He explained that the meeting would receive situation reports and mitigation recommendations from 48 districts of 34 LGAs in the states of Kaduna, Niger, and Katsina. He urged the district heads to speak candidly about the situation in their administrative regions and offer suggestions for how the government and development partners could work with them to ensure that every child and mother received the vaccine they need and the desired medical support.

The traditional leaders were praised by Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of NPHCDA, for their crucial assistance in the eradication of the circulating variant polio virus (cVPV2) from their villages.

He urged their cooperation in order to ensure that northern youngsters receive immunizations since he thought their influence had the ability to influence the future of communities.

He emphasized the need for a united front in the fight against cVPV2 – a connection between traditional, religious, and municipal leaders, health professionals, parents, and every citizen who hopes for a world without polio.

Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the country representative for the WHO in Nigeria, stated during his remarks that 15 LGAs in Nigeria reported 51 cases of polio between January and August 13, 2023.

He clarified that of the instances, 47 (92%) were centered in the North West area and that the prevalence of the circulating variant poliovirus type 2 (cVPV2) had dropped by 63% since 2022.

He claimed that the cases were primarily concentrated in states with security issues, particularly Kaduna state, which had 19 LGAs and 111 wards with unsafe settlements, endangering development.

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