Nigeria has made significant progress in ensuring that children are immunized and protected from wild poliovirus and child killers like pneumonia, meningitis and measles. Nigeria used to be one of the three polio-endemic countries in the world. As a result of concerted efforts of the government and development partners, the country successfully interrupted polio transmission and was delisted as a polio-endemic country in September 2015. If Nigeria maintains zero case of polio virus till July 24 2017, the country will be formally certified polio-free. On the other hand, immunization contributed to the reduction of under-five mortality rate by 41% between 2000 and 2015. It also played key role in the decline of death from measles by 97% between 2000 and 2013.
Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) is concerned that the National Assembly reportedly failed to approve funds for immunization as proposed in the 2016 budget. This action came as a surprise to us given that we made strong case for the provision of sufficient funds for immunization during an interaction between civil society organizations (CSO) and the national assembly leadership recently. The zero fund for immunization in the 2016 budget may cause a reversal of the progress made in polio eradication and return Nigeria into the infamous list of polio-endemic countries. It also puts an estimated 7.5 million children delivered annually at risk of being infected by wild polio virus, infected or killed by pneumonia, meningitis, Hepatitis B, measles, tetanus, tuberculosis, etc. We strongly believe the National Assembly as true representatives of the Nigerian people will not want any of these to happen.
We hereby call on the National Assembly to restore the budgetary provision for immunization to save the Nigerian children from untimely deaths. We also encourage the legislators to make laws that will ensure uninterrupted and equitable access of our children to immunization. This may help Nigeria to achieve the sustainable development goals.