The Federal Government has said that the success of the ongoing immunisation campaign against various deadly diseases depends on the level of support that government and vaccine administrators enjoy from traditional leaders in various communities.At a meeting of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and the Northern Traditional Leaders Council on Primary Health Care held in Abuja, the state government said that it was determined to ensure that the intended beneficiaries of the immunisation campaign in the country were reached, stressing that traditional leaders would be engaged to make the goal of primary health care system realistic.
The Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who addressed the traditional leaders at the meeting, said the ongoing phase of immunisation in some parts of northern Nigeria would reach over four million children who missed previous vaccination exercises.
Telling the traditional leaders that only their support and influence would make the target achievable, Shuaib said, “It is the role of traditional leaders to drive primary health care services in conjunction with the members of their communities. The community engagement framework that we are presenting is a direct result of the input from traditional institutions and community members on how we can strengthen immunisation in a way that everyone will get the vaccine they need. No child will be left without being given the immunisation.
“The NPHCDA is not starting afresh. We are building on the successes recorded in the past. We are here for over 25 months with no new case of the polio virus reported in the country. Traditional rulers have been central to this achievement and as part of the successes achieved in polio, we are replicating this in routine immunisation so we can get all the children in Nigeria are immunised against vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The Emir of Argungun, Sumaila Meira, who spoke for other traditional leaders during the meeting, said the success achieved during the fight against polio must be replicated in the fight against other diseases in the country, while calling on the people to cooperate with those who administer vaccines during the exercise.
He said, “The dramatic improvement in polio in Nigeria, which has been sustained today by the NPHCDA, has resulted in the absence of wild polio virus in the country for 25 months. This positive development is not sudden, routine immunisation remains very low in our communities with many children dying of vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Northern Nigeria is blessed with the traditional leadership system that has deep-rooted influence in the minds of our people. Traditional and religious leaders have continued to serve the interest of our people and responding to their welfare and needs.
“Members of the council should use their platforms to improve on community engagement for care-givers to improve routine immunisation. There is no doubt that under the leadership and guidance of traditional rulers from the North, our communities will attain significant improvements in routine immunisation coverage.”