UNICEF Raises Alarm Over Increase Diseases In Northeast

By Bukar Bolori 

The United Nations Children’s Fund has raised the alarm that the resurgence of insurgency in the Northeast with many being displaced will lead to increase attack of diseases especially malnutrition among children in the region.

It therefore called for continuous immunization services for conflict-affected children, calling on stakeholders to protect children and essential services targeted at them in the region.

Borno and Yobe State have in the last one week witnessed increase attacks by Boko Haram which led to many of the people made to flee from their homes.

UNICEF in a statement on Wednesday with timely immunization children will be protected from dying of opportunistic infections and live better quality life.

According to the statement, this remark was made by UNICEF Chief of Field Office in Maiduguri, Borno State, Phuong Nguyen.

She said an upsurge in conflict in the region is leading to forced displacement and will further expose children to malnutrition and inability to access routine immunization services.

She noted that: “Immunization is the foundation to children’s health, and if children are immunized, they will do well in school and develop immunity against opportunistic diseases.”

She said: “We must protect our children now so that they can protect us in our old age. Already the COVID-19 pandemic is shrinking access to routine health services. The escalating conflict in the north-east will erase the windows of opportunities that are still available.’’

Nguyen said: “Data from the World Health Organisation shows that as a result of access constraints, 14 million infants did not receive their first dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis in 2019. Another 5.7 million infants were only partially immunized. It is sad that 60 per cent of these 19.7 million children live in 10 countries, including Nigeria.”

She noted that immunization prevents up to four million deaths annually, adding that many children living in conflict-affected regions continue to miss out on life-saving immunization services.

She said that: “The benefits of immunization on children last for life. That is why immunization services for children and adults must be protected at all cost.”

She disclosed that early this year, UNICEF supported efforts of the Borno State Government with the immunization of 469,910 persons aged 9 months to 44 years against yellow fever in high burden local government areas of the state where six cases were reported. 

She also said: “UNICEF has facilitated the immunization of children against other vaccine-preventable diseases in the region and will continue to prioritise and advocate uninterrupted immunization services for children affected by conflict.”

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