‘Children’s immunization is everyone’s responsibility’
UNICEF and partners organized the first-ever ‘Forum of Governors’ on immunization in Tahoua region
On July 24th and 25th, the city of Tahoua witnessed the celebration of the UNICEF-led forum aimed to support the administration for greater involvement and commitment in the promotion of vaccination in the region.
In a joint declaration, the governor of Tahoua, political leaders, regional authorities, traditional and religious leaders, members of civil society came together to join efforts for immunization.
‘The objective of this forum is to analyze the current challenges to vaccine every child, set a common action plan, and reaffirm the commitment of Niger’s authorities to meet specific health needs for the care of children, including routine immunization. Children’s immunization is a social responsibility for all actors involved in the protection and promotion of children’s rights’ said Félicité Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger.
Immunization in Niger is at a crossroads with stagnant and declining coverage rates.
Despite significant efforts in the immunization field, the country faces recurrent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases that disrupt existing health care services and divert scarce human and financial resources.
In Niger, the results of the 2017 vaccination coverage survey show that 1 in 5 children have not received the Penta 3vaccine (Diphtheria, tetanus, meningitis, hepatitis B, polio, pneumonia), which should protect them against major diseases; and more than 1 in 5 children have not received the measles vaccine increasing the risk of an epidemic. Fewer than 4 children in 10 have received all the vaccines they need before the age of 1 year.
Tahoua: worrying numbers in terms of coverage
With more than four million people, Tahoua is the third most populated region in the country. Bordering to the north by the region of Agadez, to the northwest by the Republic of Mali, to the west by the regions of Tillaberi and Dosso, to the east by the Maradi region, and to the south by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is transit spot for nomadic populations, displaced people, migrants, and transhumant pastoralists. It is a region where there are still inequalities and where not all children still enjoy an environment conducive to their full development.
The figures on immunization in the Tahoua region are worrying. The data from the region is below the results at the national level and far from the target set for Niger. The region has a 78.5% of coverture for Penta 3against the 80.2% at national level with a target of 90%.
Several factors continue to hinder the enjoyment of certain rights by children. In the field of health, many children still do not receive all the vaccines they need. Among the causes related to this situation, stand out the problems related to the supply of services such as insufficient health staff, vaccine disruption or unsuitable strategies, as well as the weak involvement of civil society, the sector private sector and the communities themselves in immunization activities. And above all, the lack of an accountability framework of the different actors of vaccination.
Traditional, religious, and women leaders reaffirmed their commitment
‘Our partnership with UNICEF dates from long time ago. We are allies united for a better future in Niger. Children´s health is the first step for the development of the country´ Kadri Mahamane, Chief of Canton in Deoulé, Tahoua.
‘We are ready to support UNICEF wherever is needed to keep our children health’ Abukarim Oumani, religious leader from Illéla Department, Tahoua.
‘This forum reminds us our roles and responsibilities on children´s immunization. I personally sensitize the mothers of our department about the importance of vaccines´ Mariama Adamouy, the only woman Préfetin the Tahoua.
´ A child without vaccines is a loss for the country. A malnourished child is a barrier for the family. A vaccinated child means progress for a community, for Niger, and for the world´ Houmalan Ahamed, health mobilizer at Madaoua department, Tahoua.
‘This year we registered several cases of measles coming from nomadic populations. The administration and the community leaders need to take serious the vaccination of children to avoid new epidemics´ Alhousseini Toungoulout, community from Abalak Commune, Tahoua.
‘This year we registered several cases of measles coming from nomadic populations. The administration and the community leaders need to take serious the vaccination of children to avoid new epidemics´ Ibrahim Agali, traditional chief in Tajaé, Tahoua.
A forum to take actions, identify roles, and vaccinate children.
UNICEF and partners encouraged and supported the dialogue with religious and traditional leaders, fundamental actors at the communal level, for better involvement of decision-makers in immunization activities.
‘‘We know what it takes to ensure the survival and health of children and women. We know we can’t do this alone. We need to work together, with all the actors, at all levels, in the same direction’ concluded Tchibindat.
UNICEF remains committed to supporting the Government of Niger and all actors at national, regional and community level to ensure children can enjoy better conditions of development and especially receive vaccines, essential for their survival and development.
Thanks to the support of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI, JIS, WHO, and the Rotary Club, UNICEF’s immunization programme in Niger helps keep millions of children alive and healthy. UNICEF works in the ground to ensure the right of every woman and every child to immunization is fully realized, with priority given to the most vulnerable.