For the first time in the history of the Nigerian health system, children less than five years will receive rotavirus vaccine, a protection against diarrhea disease, free in designated public and private health facilities across Somolu LGA and Bariga LCDA in Lagos State. Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of death among under 5 year’s old children in Nigeria. By this development, access to rotavirus vaccination would no longer be a privilege of a few as experienced in the past, but the right of all children irrespective of their socio-economic status.
L-R: Marketing Director, Reckitt Benckiser West Africa, Aliza Leferink; Commissioner for health, Lagos State, DR. Jide Idris; Marketing Manager, RB West Africa, Bamigbaiye-Elatuyi Tola, and Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos on Primary Health Care Olufemi Onanuga, at the flag-off ceremony of the Rotavirus Jointly sponsored by Reckitt Benckiser and LASG in Lagos.
Since 2015, Stop Diarrhoea Initiative (SDI), a signature programme of Reckitt Benckiser (RB) and Save the Children has been working towards achieving one of the WHO/UNICEF 7 points plan. The programme was envisaged to contribute to RB and Save the Children’s global ambition of removing diarrhea as a top five leading cause of death amongst children by 2020.
As part of efforts towards the achievement of the last element of the SDI project 7 point plan for diarrhoea prevention and management among children aged under 5 as recommended by WHO/UNICEF, Save the Children International Nigeria in collaboration with the Lagos State Government and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), with the support from Reckitt Benckiser has flagged off the administration of rotavirus vaccine to under 5 children in Somolu LGA and Bariga LCDA. The purpose of this initiative is to reduce the prevalence of diarrhoea disease by 50% in Lagos State.
Speaking at the flag off exercise, the Marketing Director, RB West Africa, Ms. Aliza Leferink, stated that Rotavirus vaccines have helped in saving lives and improving health conditions in countries where children have access to them. Swift and significant declines in hospitalizations and deaths due to rotavirus and all-cause diarrhea have been observed in many countries with rotavirus vaccines in their national immunization programs. Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea, and one of the leading causes of preventable deaths amongst children under-five years globally. The virus spreads easily among infants and young children. It affects more than 400,000 children annually and research suggests that 9 out of 10 children who receives rotavirus vaccine will be protected against the rotavirus in the advent of diarrhoea infection. It is projected that Nigeria could reduce its diarrhoea burden by up to 40% which would avert approximately 24,518 annual deaths in children.
“Our overall ambition for this programme is to help in reducing the burden of diarrhoea, one of the leading causes of deaths in children and also develop sustainable hygiene behaviours in Nigerian communities.” She said.
Today is remarkable for Lagos State and Nigeria. We, therefore, call on the government at all levels to sustain this notable event by using lessons from the Stop Diarrhea Initiative Project with Support from Reckitt Benckiser to improve government health services delivery system. This will help reduce childhood mortality across the country, prevent needless death and compromising the future of this great nation.
Present at the event were notable dignitaries from the Lagos State Government, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Heads of Government agencies and key executives from RB, makers of world-renowned health, hygiene and home brands such as Dettol, Mortein, Harpic, Airwick, Durex, Nurofen and Gaviscon etc.