C’River marks African Vaccination Week, reiterates commitment to end vaccine preventable deaths
By Kenneth Anam
Cross River State Government via the CRSPHCDA and CRSMOH and partners have marked the African Vaccination Week, which is an annual event celebrated during the last week of April in synchronization with the other WHO Regions and the World Immunization Week (WIW).
This years celebration which is themed: “The Big Catch up” is targeted at bridging the existing immunization and vaccination gaps occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic where children who have missed being vaccinated can be safely vaccinated with appropriate vaccines which is part of over 15 guidelines and strategies issued to countries including Nigeria.
Speaking at the event shortly before flagging off and declaring the event open, the Honourable Commissioner for Health Dr. Janet Ekpenyong expressed her gratitude to His Excellency, Prof Ben Ayade and his dear wife Dr Linda Ayade for their commitment in ensuring every eligible Cross Riverian have access to vaccines and is fully vaccinated whilst thanking the DG of CRSPHCDA, Deaconess Mrs Abasioffiong Offiong and her team for their hardwork and partners of the state for their laudable and consistent efforts and support.
Dr. Janet stated that vaccination is one of the greatest public health initiatives that ensures maternal and child mortality and future health challenges are duly curbed.
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Speaking further she reiterated that the goal of the AVW is to strengthen immunization programmes in the state by increasing awareness of the importance of every person’s (particularly every child and pregnant woman) need and right to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases as data reports shows that 6.2million Nigerian children missed all routine immunization (zero dose) between 2019 – 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
About 33 million children will need to be vaccinated in Africa between 2023 and 2025 to put the continent back on track to achieve the 2030 global immunization goals that include reducing morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases.
She reiterated Government’s commitment to end vaccine preventable deaths, while being optimistic that the introduction of the malaria vaccine into routine immunization in Nigeria nay Cross River State, and Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) in 2023 and 2024 are commendable as it aligns with establishing a life-course platform for protection for an optimum dividend from vaccination.
Also speaking, Deaconess Mrs. Abasioffiong Amos Offiong, the DG PHCDA who lauded the efforts of health workers in the state whilst applauding the donor agencies and NGOs like WHO, Breakthrough Action, UNICEF and others who have worked assiduously to ensuring this results are achieved also called on all mothers and pregnant women to avail themselves for this opportunity of getting vaccinated for free as well as ensure they keep up with all other medical and health demands.
She also stated that the over-arching slogan of AVW which is “Vaccinated communities, Healthy communities” should be matched with actions to ensuring healthy communities are achieved in the state.
She further encouraged parents and eligible Cross Riverians to get vaccinated against Covid-19, to ensure that Cross River State reaches its target.
Dr. Yewande Olatunde, the State Coordinator of WHO reiterated WHO’s commitment to supporting the state to prevent any curb diseases in the state.
The permanent Secretary of CRSPHCDA. Dr. Ayi Etim appreciated the Hon Commissioner For health Dr.Janet Ekpenyong, the DG CRSPHCDA, Mrs Abasioffiong Offiong and every one for their hardwork and reiterated CRSPHCDA commitment to ending vaccine preventable deaths in the state.
Other dignitaries present were; the Director, Disease Control and Immunization, Mrs Joy Chabo, Mrs. Eme Archibong Calabar South DLGHA, Mrs. NSA Ekpenyong SMO CRSPHCDA, Mrs Blessing Omachi, Cal Mun DLGHA, representatives from UNICEF, Breakthrough Action, MTAPS, media houses and a host of others.
The event witnessed a sensitisation and awareness walk from Rabana Round About Marian through major routes of the state capital and ended at Science School Mayne Avenue,Calabar South where children and pregnant mothers were vaccinated and immunized with free distribution of diapers and other commodities to mothers.