By Nnedinma Okeke/Chukwudi Nwauba
The Anambra State Government has urged Ndi Anambra to ensure that they are adequately protected from vaccine-preventable diseases which may cause harm to them or lead to loss of life.
The Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo made the call during the Integrated Measles campaign flag-off ceremony at Uke Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC), Idemili North Local Government Area (LGA).
Prof. Soludo who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike explained that the flag-off ceremony was a symbolic event to show that the state was ready to commence active comprehensive vaccination exercise.
“This entails the integration of COVID-19 vaccination, Birth Registration, and other Routine Immunization (RI) services with a particular reference to the Measles Vaccination.’’
While commending the community leaders, healthcare workers and partners, the governor reiterated that the present administration was going to be a fruitful one.
“That is the reason we must all ensure to achieve our 95 per cent target in the Immunization coverage because that is to ensure the safety of our children/wards,’’ he said.
He tasked the Transition Committee (TC) and Ward Development Committees (WDCs) to move into communities and encourage the people to be vaccinated because the state’s mandate is that every child is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“We must use our strength, connections and everything necessary to ensure that no human/child dies from any vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Even our people say, prevention is better than cure so we are encouraged to prevent ourselves and children/wards from diseases rather than seeking for the cure,’’ he emphasized.
The governor, however, urged the Traditional and Community leaders to be the champion of the exercise and ensure its success in their communities and beyond.
He emphasized that the COVID-19 vaccine was still available as it was important we protect ourselves from the disease too.
Soludo noted that health workers had been employed in general hospitals across the state and same would be reciprocated in the PHCs.
He assured that while the community has ensured that their health facility was up to standard, the government would also play its part to ensure that adequate services were rendered there.
The Executive Secretary, of Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ASPHCDA), Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu explained that Measles was an extremely contagious disease of which around nine of 10 people who are not protected would become infected following exposure to the virus.
“It is one of the childhood killer diseases and tends to occur in epidemics; its mortality rate is higher amongst children less than five years of age who tend to live in overcrowded conditions,’’ she explained.
The Executive Secretary noted that Measles could be prevented with the Measles vaccine, hence the campaign which is part of the national response to stop spread of the outbreak, save lives of young children and reduce the burden on the health system.
“Anambra State Government in collaboration with National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), WHO, UNICEF, USAID, CDC, Red Cross and other partners will during this campaign, carry out other Routine Immunization for children aged nine to 59 months.
“Measles vaccine will be administered to children aged nine to 59 months, while Adults from 18 years and above will be allowed to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19 Virus. There will also be Birth Registration for children aged zero to five years,” she said.
According to Dr. Ezenyimulu, the state will stagger the Measles campaign because of the flood-affected LGAs.
“The first phase, which will now commence from 1st to 9th November will start in 17 LGAs to include: Aguata, Anaocha, Awka South, Ihiala, Njikoka, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Onitsha South, Onitsha North, Orumba South, Orumba North and Oyi LGAs.
“This also includes some Wards in Ogbaru Okpoko ward one to six.
“The second phase of the Measles campaign for the remaining four LGAs of Anambra East, Anambra West, Awka North, Ayamelum and the remaining wards in Ogbaru is to hold from 15th to 23rd November.
“Parents/caregivers, proprietors, Headteachers/Administrator of schools to present their children for Immunization because it is their right and a must for healthy growth.
“Health workers would be deployed to visit Churches, Schools, Parks as well as Mosques to vaccinate eligible persons around communities in the state. The Measles campaign will also be carried out at the Holding Camps,” she added.
She expressed gratitude to the Health Commissioner, Idemili North TC Chairman and his team, Partners, State and LGA health workforce for selflessly seeing to the success of the programme.
WHO Representative, Mr. Shehu Mohammed noted that WHO was happy to be part of the process in safeguarding and preserving the lives of Ndi Anambra.
“The contributions of the state government is wonderfully accepted and we all agree that Anambra state is ready to launch the campaign and ensure that it is successful.’’
He, then, called on all Traditional leaders, President Generals (PGs), Women and Religious leaders to all support the process to ensure that the state succeeds.
The TC Chairman, Idemili North LGA, Mr. Chuks Igboanua while urging mothers/caregivers to ensure their wards partake in the vaccination exercise noted that people of the area are key in the programmes and aspirations of the present administration.
“Our community is standing strongly behind the state government especially toward achieving his vision and mission in establishing the state to an enviable height.’’
He, however, pleaded with the state government to look into the road which leads from Uke Town Union Hall to the health facility, saying that it is dilapidated and poses problems to users.