A report released by the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has shown that over four million children under one year of age did not receive measles vaccination in 2017.
It stated that the children missed out in the first of the two doses of the measles vaccine essential to protect children from the disease
In the report released on Wednesday to mark this year’s World Immunization Week, UNICEF lamented the situation in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria.
Others trailing Nigeria include, India (2.9 million), Pakistan and Indonesia (1.2 million each), and Ethiopia (1.1 million).
UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said, “The ground for the global measles outbreaks we are witnessing today was laid years ago.
“The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child, in rich and poor countries alike.”
It stated that global coverage of the first dose of the measles vaccine was reported at 85 per cent in 2017 owing to factors which include lack of access, poor health systems, complacency, and in some cases fear or skepticism about vaccines.
‘’Of the top 20 countries with the largest number of unvaccinated children in 2017, 9 have not introduced the second dose. Twenty-countries in sub-Saharan Africa have not introduced the necessary second dose in the national vaccination schedule, putting over 17 million infants a year at higher risk of measles during their childhood,’’ the report says.
UNICEF said an estimated 169 million children missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, or 21.1 million children a year on average.
The agency said it would not relent in helping to combat the disease by negotiating vaccine prices (the cost of the measles vaccine is now at an all-time low); Helping countries identify underserved areas and unreached children; Procuring vaccines and other immunization supplies.
Others are supporting supplementary vaccination campaigns to address gaps in routine immunization coverage; Working with relevant countries to introduce the second dose of the measles vaccine in the national immunization schedule (Cameroon, Liberia and Nigeria are on track to do so in 2019) and introducing innovations like the use of solar power and mobile technologies to maintain vaccines at the right temperature.
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