Immunisation: WHO tasks media on correct information

Dr Olayiwola Olanike, Technical Officer, Vaccine Preventable Diseases Cluster (VPD), World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday that the media has the greatest role to play regarding information about immunisation.

Olanike said this in Akwanga at the 7th Annual Conference of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHeJ).

“You need to communicate the need to support the immunisation system to everyone at every opportunity,” he said.

The theme of the conference which is organised in collaboration with the WHO is “Health Security: Nigeria’s Efforts to Achieve Universal Health Coverage”.

Olanike said that the media should always request for clarification when in doubt to ensure balance reportage.

According to him, with the availability of 25 vaccines, Nigeria has significantly contributed to reduction of deaths and hospitalisation through eradication, elimination and control of vaccine preventable diseases.

“For instance, polio cases have decreased by over 99 per cent since 1988.

“It decreased from an estimated 350,000 cases in more than 125 countries to only 11 confirmed WPV cases and 291 Variant Poliovirus (cVDPV) cases globally from 2 countries in 2023 through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) effort.

“Similarly, before the introduction of measles vaccine in 1963 and widespread vaccination, major epidemics occurred approximately every two to three years and caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.

“In addition, complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, croup, diarrhea and pneumonia resulting from measles infection caused thousands of hospitalisations annually, and as well encephalitis which could result in brain damage, loss of hearing or vision,” he said.

Olanike also said that morbidity and mortality associated with vaccine preventable diseases are still being recorded and Nigeria rank among the topmost affected countries in spite of all the achievements recorded through vaccination.

He said that it was not surprising because immunisation coverage in the country was suboptimal even as the country had the second highest number of zero-dose (not vaccinated with PENTA1) children globally.

“Though uncommon, some people will not zero-convert even if adequately vaccinated, immunity is produced when a very high proportion of people are vaccinated, thereby protecting the rest of the population.”

Source: News Agency of Nigeria