As pressure kept on mounting around the country over allegations of camouflaged soldiers going about in some communities to immunise school children against some “unknown diseases”, the office of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has against refuted to rumour.
Below is a memo from the office of the Technical Advisor, Dr Chima Onoka:
It is with grave concern that I join to provide some clarification on the ongoing vaccination challenges, and the potential consequences of sustaining the negative narratives in the public space on our children.
The Nigerian Army is not involved in Vaccination in any of the areas where the recent School closures and rejection of vaccines have occurred.
What Happened following the Army’s medical services to the citizens in some states is extremely unfortunate. The wisdom to engage in one is also subject to public debate and judgment and not within the scope of this contribution on next steps.
At the moment, a real polio vaccination is ongoing in some parts of the country and is being impacted negatively.
Measles vaccination is starting in a few days time ahead of the period of high seasonal transmission and we must protect our children.
The incorrect message on Immunization being spread around is affecting the ongoing and planned activities and billions of naira has been wasted already by rejection caused by the propaganda.
Meanwhile, the country has huge fiscal constraints in relation to the money needed to buy vaccines that our children need in the next few years. This are times that wastage must be avoided.
There are clear threats to national and regional health security that are beyond political, tribal and religious sentiments. As responsible professionals, we know the facts and we must be courageous enough to protect issues like vaccination of our children from such sentiments.
Further risks abound including outbreaks next year…Polio, CSM, measles, especially in places where gains need sustaining.
It is important to manage information well and to be careful not to propagate crisis. The consequences are huge.
Our children and grandchildren are at risk and need our protection and prayers.
At the moment, we are out in the battle front, making enormous sacrifices to manage Cholera outbreak in the Northeast, Yellow fever in Kwara, and Monkey pox. Many are forming the defense line at risks to their lives, to keep it from spreading to reach our own children. These sacrifices cannot be compensated for by any amount of money. The least we can do is not to worsen the burden by misinformation. But we can be nobler by Praying along and also by sharing the right information to everyone in our circle of influence.
Dr. Chima Onoka
Office of the Executive Director
National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)