mmunization coverage is poor in Bauchi – expert
IBy Rita Michael
Bauchi is among the states performing poorly on immunization coverage in the country as only 6.1 percent of children under the age of one were fully immunized this year.
An immunization expert, Dr Auwal Abubakar, who is the Incident Manager, Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) of the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSPHCDA), stated this while delivering a lecture at an event marking this year's African Vaccination Week (AVW) organized by the Bauchi State Accountability Mechanism (BaSAM) in the state.
He said that 90 percent of local government areas in the state had less than 15 percent children fully immunized which indicates that the state 'did not carry out immunization at least four sessions per month as recommended to be done nationwide'.
He identified the key factors to be responsible for the poor immunization indices recorded in the state to include; lack of funds at the health facility level, absence of predictable funding for the programme on annual basis, lack of functioning storage in some local governments, adding that health facilities in the state had only one supervision session per month instead of three.
''Although more than 90 percent of mothers believed vaccination is worthwhile, more than 44 percent of children had not taken any vaccine at all. There were different causes that explained why mothers did not get their children vaccinated. 40 percent was due to lack of information, 17 percent due to fear of side effects while 15 percent due to location being far,'' he asserted.
Abubakar said, "the Emergency Operation Centre was committed to sustaining current community engagement activities to increase demand for immunization services in the next year (2018), addressing data quality issues with data collected at facility levels and ensuring timely payment of state's Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) contribution for the sustenance of activities.
'' However, with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Bauchi State government, Dangote Foundation and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2016, vaccine stock-out has reduced from 41 percent at the commencement of the MoU to eight percent in December 2016.
"The state primary health care development agency rolled out local government to health facility supportive supervision dashboard across all the local government areas and commenced validation of finacnial retirements for local governments and health facilities''.
Besides, one of the organizers of the event, Mrs. Bulak Afsa, explained that Africa Vaccination Week (AVW) is an annual activity aimed at strengthening immunization programmes in the region by increasing awareness.
She said that the event focused on vaccination campaigns, information outreach and health promotion through immunization and other child survival interventions.