The federal government has expressed its commitment to spend $3billion to scale up immunisation in the country.
It said the programme would be implemented through the ‘Nigeria’s Strategy on Immunization and PHC Systems Strengthening (NSIPSS)’.
The government also said the number of Nigerians suffering from acute hepatitis infection as of 2018 was 20 million.
It stated that a National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey conducted in 2018 showed a prevalence of 8.1 percent for Hepatitis B (HBV) and 1.1 percent for Hepatitis C (HCV).
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, gave the statistics at this year’s World Health Organisation (WHO) virtual high-level commemoration of the World Hepatitis Day and the launch of the guidelines for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B, saying the federal government is working in alignment with regional resolutions to reduce chronic hepatitis B virus infection to less than 2 percent in children under five years by the end of this year.
Ehanire said: “One of the major challenges of hepatitis B birth dose vaccination was the inadequate domestic contribution to finance vaccines and expand access to services. In recent times, Nigeria has made important progress in this area. We are committed to a $3billion Nigeria Strategy on Immunization and PHC Systems Strengthening (NSIPSS).”
He explained that the plan is for the transitioning to financial ownership of the immunisation and primary health care system over a ten-year period from 2018 to 2028.
According to him, the plan is aimed at addressing inequities in the uptake of routine vaccines and improvement of coverage for HBV birth dose, adding that in 2019, hepatitis B HBV birth dose coverage was 59 percent.
He said Nigeria is endemic for both viral hepatitis B and C.
According to Ehanire, “In 2018, Nigeria conducted a National AIDS indicator and impact survey which showed a prevalence of 8.1 percent for hepatitis B (HBV) and 1.1 percent for hepatitis C (HCV). We could estimate that about 20 million people are chronically infected.”
He said Nigeria was one of the first African countries to introduce a birth dose of HBV vaccine in 2004.
The minister noted the country followed up by establishing the National Viral Hepatitis Control programme in 2013 to coordinate all national efforts, and through this, developed national documents, including policies, strategic plan, guidelines, training materials and treatment centre directory.
“An important next step is establishing a routine surveillance system to improve on our reporting on the Global Hepatitis Surveillance systems (GHSS) platform.
“We hope to continue to increase coverage as we work towards elimination. It is important to note that Nigeria has not defaulted in its co-financing obligations of routine immunisation implementation for the past three years.
“We have also worked on strengthening routine immunisation through the establishment of a National Emergency Routine Immunisation Coordination Centre (NERICC) in 2017, and there have been several gains through the creation of this platform. For example, its heavy focus on supply chain management has helped to improve the availability of vaccines at district and facility levels,” he said.