The Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has warned health workers participating in the routine immunization campaigns against collecting tips from residents. Obiano gave the warning during the one-day Sensitisation/Engagement Meeting for Measles Second Dose (MSD) Vaccination held on Monday in Awka, the state capital.
Dr. Nnamdi Uliagbafusi, Head of Department, Immunisation and Disease Control, Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ASPHCDA) made the position of the governor known to participants at the meeting. Uliagbafusi said that the state had yet to apprehend any offender but added that rumours going round had it that some health workers on immunisation demanded tips from residents.
“Immunisation is free and it is both national and state policy that it be administered free to the target groups. Anybody caught in the act of extortion during immunisation will be duly dealt with,” he said. Dr. Chioma Ezeanyimulu, Executive Secretary, ASPHCDA said that Anambra scored first in the last immunisation campaign, and would do everything possible to maintain the lead. Ezeanyimulu explained that the measles second dose to be launched at Primary Health Centre, Isuaniocha, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra, on Nov. 14 would be the first of such a campaign.
She said that after the launch, the exercise would last between Nov.15 and Nov.17 across the state adding that the exercise would equally take place across Nigeria. “Routinely, the measles vaccine is given at ninth month, but we want to introduce a second dose to be given before the second year of life that is at 15th month,” she said. Ezeanyimulu hinted that the agency would be doing other campaigns for yellow fever and meningitis between Dec. 7 and Dec. 17.
She said that the sensitization jointly organised by UNICEF and ASPHCDA was to adequately build the capacity of the stakeholders to ensure successful operations. Mr. Felix Okocha, UNICEF, Communication for Development Consultant, who spoke on the reasons and objectives of the measles second dose, said it was to ensure total eradication of measles disease in Nigeria. Okocha, who said that many children still died as a result of measles, added that findings showed that the first round of immunisation only recorded 85 per cent success.
He noted that the introduction of the second round was aimed at the total eradication of the disease. Representatives of the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control delivered goodwill messages during the meeting. It was attended by no fewer than 50 persons, including social mobilisation officers from the 21 Local Government Areas of Anambra, representatives of Rotary, religious leaders, and the media.