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UNICEF says 20,000 children have no access to immunization in Bayelsa



57% Nigerian children without birth certificate —UNICEF

About 20,000 children in Bayelsa State have not had access to immunisation due to the terrain and riverine nature of the state, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said.

Media Aide to Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Mr Doubara Atasi, in a statement on Thursday, said that UNICEF also donated six brand new water ambulances boats to boost immunization coverage and primary care delivery services in riverine communities of the state.

Speaking during the donation ceremony in Yenagoa on Thursday, the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms. Cristian Munduate, applauded the state government for prioritizing healthcare delivery services, especially in the primary healthcare sector.

Munduate noted that the six water ambulances donated by UNICEF and its partners were meant to close up existing gaps in the health sector, as Bayelsa still had about 20,000 children yet to be reached for immunization.

She, however, pointed out that from the statistics available, Bayelsa achieved a 20 per cent increase in routine immunization in the last couple of years, stressing there was still room for improvement to achieve 100 percent coverage.

Receiving the water ambulance boats, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, appealed to UNICEF to establish a field office in the state to coordinate its programmes and strengthen partnership with the government to better deliver on its mandate.

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Diri, who was represented at the ceremony by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, said the creation of a UNICEF field office in the state would make for better coordination and implementation of the organization’s policies and programmes.

He decried the arrangement whereby the UN agency’s programmes were coordinated in the state through the Rivers State UNICEF field office, expressing gratitude to the organisation, and the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) for their partnership with government to improve primary healthcare indices and indicators.

He said: “Bayelsa is 70 per cent riverine. So for us to make effective supervision, for effective healthcare delivery to the people, boats were required, and today you have delivered six water ambulances.

“So, we are very grateful to UNICEF for the six water ambulances to boost our healthcare delivery system. We also want to thank you for renovating six health centres in our state. It will be unfair if we do not acknowledge that kind gesture of yours.

“But there is an appeal I want to make here. We have been having issues with the UNICEF Rivers State field office, so we don’t mind, even if it is just one cubicle you create for us as UNICEF Bayelsa State office. We will be very happy if you can do that for us.”

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