By G9ija

As part of efforts to build on the gains achieved, especially in the eradication of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) in Nigeria and to increase immunisation coverage, the Federal Government has provided logistical support – motorcycles and laptops, to frontline routine immunisation officers in low performing states.

Supported by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the 456 motorcycles and 456 laptops will help the frontline workers penetrate inner cities and villages where immunisation has been low, to gather quality data about their status, which will inform critical decision making, planning and management.

The Executive Secretary of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, made this known on Friday in Abuja, during the commissioning of motorcycles and laptops for routine immunisation officers in poor performing states.

He said, “We experienced a situation where the lockdown prevented people from being able to access primary healthcare centres. So, there was a decline in practically all primary health care services.

“As at the last time we checked our data, we have now started to see that primary health care (PHC) services, especially routine immunization, is going back to the levels that they used to be before the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pretty confident that with better understanding of COVID-19 pandemic, people are more confident and will access primary health care services, and indeed all healthcare services.

“Never before in the history of Nigeria have we seen more than a doubling of routine immunisation coverage within such a short period. Today, as we try to improve and get even beyond where we are today, we are donating these motorcycles and laptops to frontline workers.

“Only three years ago when we declared a state of emergency on the low routine immunisation coverage, we also recognised that it was going to take more than rhetoric to make sure that we achieve our ambition of ensuring that no child in Nigeria is left behind when it comes to getting all the vaccines that they need to grow into healthy and productive adults in our society.

“This is why working with the World Bank and our partners; we decided to ask ourselves why routine immunisation has been so poor. We realised that there was a need for us to provide frontline workers with the tools that they need.

“The tools that they need is part of what we are giving out today in terms of making sure that they have the logistics to get to the last mile, making sure that they have the equipment to be able to manage data.”

He added, “In the last two years, because of all our efforts in this space, we have been able to reduce the difference between administrative data and survey data to less than 20 percent. This is very huge.

“The provision of these laptops will provide the routine immunisation officers at the local government areas direct access to data and will be able to interrogate the quality of data.”

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, while commissioning the motorcycles and laptops, said, “Routine immunisation is a major pillar of the primary health care system. Our goal of universal health coverage is not complete unless we have a full and well established routine immunisation programme.

“It gives me much joy to see the National Primary Health Care Development Agency pursuing its mandate to implement a system-wide plan to enhance the routine immunisation programme and to ramp up coverage, especially in the poor performing states, towards accelerating universal health coverage objectives.”