Ivara Esu flags-off Integrated Measles Vaccination Campaign, Rota Vaccine Introduction in C/River

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Cross River State Deputy Governor, His Excellency Prof. Ivara Ejemot Esu has flagged off the 2022 State Integrated Measles Vaccination Campaign alongside the Introduction of the Rota Vaccine in Calabar to curtail vaccine preventable deaths in the state.

Expressing his appreciation to partners on behalf of the state for their collaboration, monitoring, implementation and evaluation , the Deputy Governor said, it was time to look beyond curative medicine and embrace preventive approaches which he applauded the partners for their timely support.

According to Esu, the seeming increase in the occurrence of measles and other vaccine preventable diseases in the world is due to negligence and over familiarities with the old norms which according to him has now been altered with the covid-19 pandemic.

“We have noticed that there is a seeming increase in the occurrence of measles worldwide, especially because COVID-19 has just ended and we have stopped wearing the mask, social distancing, and other preventive measures.”

Ebeshi Benita, a 3 years old girl from Edeleje, Ibiaragidi Ward of Bekwarra LGA, Cross River proudly displaying her immunization card after taking her Measles vaccine to prevent her against the Measles virus

“Transmittable diseases that usually would have been prevented with masks and social distancing would have the opportunity to spread much faster. Children who have missed routine immunization would have the opportunity to take the vaccine. I want to also thank UNICEF, WHO, NPHCDA, and other development partners for their continuous support.”

He also advised mothers to partake in the exercise by bringing out their children, aged nine months and below five years, for vaccination against the deadly measles disease irrespective of previous vaccination status.

“I want to encourage our mothers and the children to come forth and have this immunization. Measles is a very dangerous disease for children. It has a lot of other things it can cause.” He said

The Deputy Governor took the opportunity to thank the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and other partners for collaborating with the state government in the health sector, particularly towards safeguarding the health of children in the statesaid.

Earlier in her address, the Director-General, Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, noted that although measles was one of the vaccine-preventable diseases of childhood, it still accounts for a large proportion of deaths among under-five children in Nigeria.

Ekpenyong said the integrated campaign has been introduced as part of the efforts to ensure the highest quality coverage and effective measles campaign in the state.

She said, although the measles vaccine is part of the routine vaccine, the high impact campaign will bridge the gaps of children that may have missed out on routine immunization. This gives us the opportunity to ensure that they get vaccinated against measles.”

She also mentioned that the State has also introduced the Rotavirus vaccine that was flagged off earlier in Abuja to help fight diarrhea in children. Rotavirus vaccine will help prevent diarrhea that is usually caused by Rotavirus in children.

She said it is totally free and will be made available in all our health facilities and it is also going to be part of this integrated measles campaign. She also mentioned that adults are not left out in this campaign. They will also be receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

While explaining that measles is a dangerous and infectious disease that spreads rapidly from one infected child to another and a major cause of blindness, malnutrition, and death among children, Ekpenyong appealed to parents, guardians, caregivers, and Nigerians, in general, to make their children and wards available for the vaccination campaign, as the whole process has been decentralized such that health workers will not only be in the facilities to render the services, but they will also be moving from house to house, church to church, worship centers, marketplaces, schools, public places, and others to make sure that no child is missed.”

According to the DG, they are targeting 700, 000 children within the ages of 0-5 years across the state, adding that the integrated campaign will run from November 3 to 10, 2022 and the state will achieve 100% coverage.

She appreciated the Federal Government and the commitment of His Excellency, Senator Professor Ben Ayade who has ensured that the integrated campaign is flagged off successfully.

Buttressing the importance of the campaign, the Chairman of Calabar South Local Government Area, Hon. Esther Bassey urged the residents to get vaccinated as the state and partners are working effortlessly to keep them safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Also speaking, the representative of the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, Mr Julius Idoko appreciated the state Government for providing counterpart funds for the campaign and encouraged rhe health workers to put in their best to ensure a successful campaign.

In a goodwill message, the Cross River State World Health Organization (WHO) Coordinator, Dr. Salisu Ibrahim commended the Cross River State government for spearheading preparations for the campaign, adding that WHO remains committed to providing the needed technical support towards disease prevention and control, including measles elimination.

The UNICEF VSL Mr Austin Nwabuisi also reiterated UNICEF’s commitment and support to the state in tackling vaccine preventable Diseases.

Meanwhile, one of the mothers who presented her child for vaccination at the flag-off, Mrs. Imabong Usoro, expressed gratitude to the government and partners for implementing vaccination campaigns to keep their children healthy.

“I am delighted that my child has received the vaccination against measles. I will inform others to allow their children to get vaccinated too”, she said.

Present at the flag-off included the Chairman house committee on health, Dr Davis Etta Permanent Secretary, Cross River State Ministry of Health, Dr. Iwara Iwara, the SA to the Governor on Health Dr Ushie, the State Immunization Officer, Mrs. Joy Chabo, State Coordinator, Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria, Mrs. Pascaline Edim, Dr Ugochi Eyong if UNICEF, Secretary of the board, Barr Dan Effiom, the PS SPHCDA , Barr Emmanuel Eke amongst others.