The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF on Wednesday alerted that the global coronavirus pandemic has put millions of children, especially in Nigeria, at risk of not being vaccinated against polio and measles, reported Africa News.
“It is essential to address the global Covid-19 pandemic. However, other deadly diseases, such as polio and measles, also threaten the lives of millions of children in some of the poorest parts of the world,” UNICEF and the WHO said in a joint statement in Abuja.
The two organizations said that there has been a global resurgence of measles with epidemics under way in all regions of the world in recent years. Immunization rates in some countries have dropped by as much as 50 per cent, with people unable to access health services because of lockdown and transport disruptions, or unwillingness due to fear of contracting COVID-19.
They added that gaps in immunization coverage have been further exacerbated in 2020 by Covid-19, and called for urgent action by global donors and policymakers.
According to the joint statement by WHO and UNICEF, Nigeria’s situation is worrying. Although the country was declared free of wild polio in August 2020, it remains at risk of outbreaks of polio and measles due to inadequate improvements in increasing the routine immunization coverage in children receiving lifesaving vaccines.
According to the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, only 54 percent of the children have received one vaccine dose of measles, which is among the leading cause of death and disability in children in the country.
“Unlike with Covid, we have the tools and knowledge to stop diseases such as polio and measles,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The two UN agencies estimate that around $655m (£500m) is urgently needed to fill the gaps opening up in vaccination services against the two diseases.