WHO contributes to disease immunization and surveillance in Nigerian communities

The World Health Organization’s office in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, supported Supplementary Immunization Activity (SIA) teams and routine immunization (RI) volunteers to immunize 25,595 children under the age of 5 with Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in 69 border settlements in the 6 municipalities in the area.

“WHO has been extremely helpful in our facility. The Organization provides incentives during our outreach sessions in the slums, they have trained many of our health workers and we particularly and greatly appreciate their supportive supervision particularly in RI and surveillance, we have learned so much from WHO.” says Margaret Okpara, the Matron at the Dutse Alhaji PHC.

Slum-based health facilities often witness a large influx of patients, as services are often free or available at subsidized prices. At Dutse Alhaji PHC, for example, it is estimated that 200 babies come for evaluation and IR daily.

Supplementary Immunization Activity (SIA) has complemented IR in the last 12 months.A total of 17,841 have been immunized with OPV in 199 Nomadic settlements and 81,521 have been immunized with OPV in 165 Slum settlements across the 6 area councils of the FCT. Some of the slum settlements include Mpape, Dutse Alhaji, Idu Karmo, Dei-Dei, Dakwa.

According to Florence Chinweike, nurse-supervisor of the Bwar Area Council Health Department, most slum-based facilities find it difficult to function.“Our PHCs need more funding for outreach and more of our personnel need to be trained. We also need more qualified hands on deck and more quality equipment to work with,” she states.

At Aso Pada Primary Health Care Center, WHO provided support and assistance to manage RI activities. A total of 3,833 children received an immunization from January to June 2019 for the following antigens (vaccines) – measles vaccine, inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), Bacillus Calmette – Guérin vaccine (BCG), pentavalent OPV and hepatitis B in several occasions, depending on their age. Between 40 and 60 children attend weekly immunization sessions at the institution and 15 to 20 children daily.

The organization has worked to promote universal health coverage in slums, rural and urban areas. In total there are 39,550 Primary Health Care Centers (PHC) in Nigeria, many of which serve poor communities, including slums, and WHO has worked closely with these PHC centers in rural and urban areas of FCT and beyond. Twice a week, the WHO team assists PHC health professionals during village and slum trips.

“During our outreaches, we assist health workers to immunize at least 20 children every day and a total of roughly 40 children every week,” stated Dr. Fureratu Zakari, FCT State Coordinator, WHO Nigeria.

“Over the past 6 months, WHO has built the capacity of over 100 Health workers in Bwari Local Government Area (LGA) and supported nearly 24 outreach sessions within the same period. We believe through building the capacities of health workers in underprivileged communities, the health indices will increase and residents of such communities will be more aware of vaccine-preventable diseases and better advised on the right measures to take. These are all steps to achieve universal health coverage – for everyone everywhere”. added Dr. Fureratu Zakari.