Importance of Immunization in Nigeria

Nigeria has experienced tremendous gains from immunization interventions. The societal benefits of immunization range from saving on medical expenses to the reduction of child mortality, among other things. This article will address the importance of immunization in Nigeria.

Importance of Immunization in Nigeria

The importance of immunization in Nigeria is addressed below:

  • Reduces Child Mortality

A major role immunization has played in Nigeria since its introduction is how it has drastically reduced infant and child mortality rates from vaccine-preventable diseases. Fifty years ago or thereabout, diseases such as measles, poliovirus, whooping cough, monkey box, tetanus, chickenpox, typhoid fever, Haemophilus influenzae type B, and meningitis, among others, had negatively impacted infants and young children leading to death, in most cases. Since the introduction of vaccines and the subsequent increase of immunization coverage rates in Nigeria over the years, mortality rates in infants and children from vaccine-preventable diseases have drastically reduced. Globally, immunization averts approximately 4 million deaths every year.

  • Enhances Productivity

When infants and children are faced with health challenges resulting from diseases such as whooping cough, typhoid fever, hepatitis B, measles, monkey box, meningitis, diphtheria, and poliovirus, among other vaccine-preventable diseases, their parents and guardians may have to stay back from work and their businesses to tend to them. In addition, these diseases have an associated financial burden on the parents of the affected infants and children.

Therefore, as these vaccine-prevented diseases continue to diminish in Nigeria through immunization, it brings about added value to the community as parents are not prevented from going to work or engaging in their business, thus contributing to the growth, and production and tax revenues of Nigeria.

  • Aids in Poverty Alleviation

Indigent groups and the economically disadvantaged usually bear the brunt of the burden of diseases, albeit harshly due to their lack of monetary resources. Preventable diseases such as tetanus, poliovirus, whooping cough, measles, and Haemophilus influenzae type B, usually pose suffering to individuals,  families and societies. Immunization interventions in Nigeria don’t discriminate based on the socio-economic situation of an individual. So, these immunization interventions across Nigeria ensure that children, even those from impoverished backgrounds, are vaccinated against diseases that could pose great suffering. So, with the absence of disease in their children, indigent groups and the economically disadvantaged can uphold income. Thus reducing the financial burden associated with diseases which implies removing a major hindrance to escaping poverty.

  • Increases Life expectancy

Before immunization, children and families in Nigeria experienced suffering and death associated with diseases such as measles, monkeypox, typhoid fever, Haemophilus influenzae type B, tetanus, whooping cough, and poliovirus, among others. With the tremendous gains of immunization in Nigeria, child deaths as a result of vaccine-preventable diseases have drastically reduced, which considerably increases life expectancy among the population.

  • Promotes Maternal Health

The ever-increasing scope of immunization interventions in Nigeria has made it possible for mothers and pregnant women to benefit from maternal care services. There are immunization vaccines that benefit women, such as Rubella vaccines which protect against infection that can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects in babies. In addition, HPV vaccines are known to prevent cervical cancer in women.

  • Facilitates the Achievement of Education

When infants and children receive immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases such as poliovirus, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles and meningitis, they will be healthy to attend school more regularly and learn more. The absence of these vaccine-preventable diseases in children aids their cognitive development, physical strength, as well as the attainment of their educational goals.

  • Ensures Equity

Immunization seeks to ensure that all infants and children have access to lifelong protection irrespective of their gender, colour, tribe, religion, or economic condition. The immunization interventions are always affordable, sometimes free, thus reducing inequality in society.

  • Aids Health System Strengthening

As immunization delivery services continue to gain tremendous coverage in Nigeria it invariably strengthens the health system in the country, and vice versa. Immunization drives down the suffering and attendant challenges that come with vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, monkeypox, poliovirus and whooping cough, to name a few. Hence, the health system in Nigeria is saved from the immense treatment costs that would have been posed to the population from these vaccine-preventable diseases.

The public health system in Nigeria also benefits from immunization delivery interventions as they can serve as a platform to reach out to groups that are usually not easily accessible. In addition, immunization interventions give parents the chance to be more in touch with public health care services.

  • Enhances Global Trade, Tourism and International Reputation of Nigeria

In Nigeria, immunization interventions have achieved a degree of success as the incidences of outbreaks of preventable diseases have been drastically reduced. Following the success of immunization interventions in Nigeria which has greatly reduced repeated outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles, Hepatitis B, poliovirus, whooping cough, meningitis and monkeypox, the country has attained a reputation for being safe from these diseases. So, tourists and investors alike, have the assurance that the likelihood of outbreaks of such diseases as mentioned above are unlikely. So, the success of immunization interventions in Nigeria boosts foreign exchange in the form of tourism and global trade.

According to the Nigerian Ministry of Health, a child is expected to receive vaccines from the date of birth to the first year, over five visits. These vaccines and the doses a child needs to receive to be considered fully immunized in Nigeria include a BCG vaccination, three doses of DPT to prevent diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, and at least three doses of the polio vaccine, including a dose of the measles vaccine.

In Nigeria, the Government has made immunization for children free of charge across all government facilities, except the rotavirus vaccine.

If a child obtains these vaccines in line with their appropriate schedule, the following diseases will be protected against – diphtheria, tetanus (also referred to as Lockjaw), pertussis (or whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type b, Hepatitis B, polio, pneumococcal disease, measles, rotavirus, Rubella (also known as German measles), mumps, yellow fever, typhoid fever and chickenpox.

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