By Abdullahi Tukur
UNICEF statistics reveal that about 48 million children in Nigeria have no access to any form of immunization in their lives with the North Western States of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara having the worst records.
Addressing a media Dialogue with journalists from the affected States in Sokoto, The UNICEF Country Director represented by Dr. Shamina Sharma, charged newsmen to create greater awareness on the need for care givers, community leaders and decision makers to wholeheartedly embrace immunization.
Dr. Sharma pointed out that, children who were denied routine immunization were crudely exposed to deaths resulting from vaccine preventable diseases thereby creating serious hindrance to the growth of the society saying, the recent loss of lives from diphtheria in most States of the Federation was a pointer to that directo.
Speaking, Sokoto State Director Public Health, Dr Abdurrahman Ahmed urged journalists to educate the public on the failure to immunize a child from zero to two years was equal to depopulating the nation because the vaccine preventable diseases would deplete a reasonable number of the productive population through deaths.
Dr Ahmed stressed that immunizing a child would boost his immunity against major killer diseases like hepatitis, cancer, tuberculosis, leprosy amongst others, saying journalists formed a strategic force that will fight against zero immunization in the society through their professional enlightenment campaigns.
The District Head of Gagi, Alhaji Sani Umar, disclosed that he was amongst the sceptics of immunization but the power of sustainable sensitization by the UNICEF through the media he had now become an advocate of the programme and had recorded tremendous successes in his domain.
Communications Officer of UNICEF, Kano Field office, Emmanuel Kaalu, urged journalists to use their current affairs programmes, editorials, features, news and talk shows in their respective media organizations to educate the public on the need to protect the future of their children by immunizing them from birth to make them productive in life.