The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), says that 39,805 children below the age of two are yet to receive the first dose of the pentavalent vaccine in Anambra.
Mrs Juliet Chiluwe, UNICEF Chief Field Officer, Enugu, gave the statistics at a three-day stakeholders’ engagement forum organised in partnership with the Anambra State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.
It was reported that Pentavalent vaccine is taken against five killer diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and Hemophilus influenza type B (Hib).
Chiluwe, represented by Dr Olusoji Akinleye, Acting Field Officer, said the statistics was from the multiple indicators of 2016 and 2021 mixed survey carried out by the National Planning Commission.
She said the indicators captured in Anambra were worrisome and called for concern.
“From the records, Anambra is the only state in the South East where Penta 3 coverage declined within the period under review, while the rest states increased remarkably.
“Anambra has the highest zero dose cumulative population in the zone, precisely 39,805 children below two year are to receive the first dose of Pentavalent vaccine.
“Access to handwashing facilities in the state is low, and still reducing further. It went down from 30 per cent in 2016 to 19 per cent in 2021.
“Again, access to child education in Anambra is below 70 per cent and the second lowest in the South East. Anambra also has the highest out-of-school children in the region with 23 per cent.
“Only 32 per cent of primary school age children enter primary 1 in the state. All these are all indicators of poverty,” she said.
Chiluwe said that 296,000 under-five children were yet to have their births registered, which was actually the highest in South East.
According to her, children whose births are yet to be registered and documented stand the risk of being denied their rights of identity.
She said there was the need for deliberate, robust and all-inclusive policy on Social Protection to address the various forms of vulnerabilities and reverse the negative indicators in the state.
“The Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Ms Chiamaka Nnake, had given us the assurance and we have agreed to deliver the Social Protection policy in November.
“UNICEF as a body is committed to ensuring that the November deadline is achieved. We will mobilise all resources within and outside UNICEF,” she said.
Chiluwe commended the state government’s efforts in improving the lives of citizens by offering free antenatal and delivery care, employment of health workers and teachers as well as the free education policy.
Also speaking, the Deputy Governor, Dr Onyekachi Ibezim, said the social protection policy was in line with the 50-year vision plan of Gov. Chukwuma Soludo’s administration.
He expressed confidence in the caliber of manpower and implementing partners involved in the process to deliver on the mandate amidst dwindling global economic challenges.
Earlier, Commissioner Nnake said that the stakeholders’ engagement forum was to review earlier drafted social protection policy ahead of its launch in November.
She said that the policy would serve as a guide for addressing vulnerability challenges and poverty level as well as develop a road map for adoption of the policy in the state.