Rotavirus induced acute gastroenteritis has been a major disease burden in Nigeria, since it was first reported in 1985. Prevalence rates have increased with severe public health consequences particularly among infants and young children worldwide.
Statistics of health in Nigeria say that approximately 50,000 deaths occur in children under the age of five in Nigeria as a result of the virus and it is the most frequent cause of severe diarrhea in Children accounting for about 215,000 of the global 525,000 under-5 mortality attributed to diarrheal diseases each year.
In a telephone conversation with the Director Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency- Dr Micheal OGUNTOYE, he describes rotavirus as the leading cause of diarrheal disease in the world.
According to him, the virus is responsible for over 40 per cent of diarrhea in children and worse in children less than a year old.
“Rotavirus is one of the enteroviruses that accounts for cases of diarrhea in children, most especially children who are less than five years of age and it is worse in children less than one year.
It accounts for a high number of illness and death among these susceptible children”
He added that primary health care providers have been trained on how to administer the vaccine in Kwara State.
“We have trained all the routine health workers. The vaccines have been moved into different LGAs and from the LGAs moved into different facilities that provide routine immunization”
Dr. OGUNTOYE stated further that the Federal Government was making it available so that Nigerians could access the vaccine freely, while appealing to people to take advantage of it by visiting any healthcare centre closest to them to get them for free.
“The vaccine is available free for children under one year old. So we want to use this opportunity to appeal to parents and caregivers to make their children and wards available to access this vaccine so they can be protected from the diarrhea caused by rotavirus”
He added that “one mistake that mothers normally make is that they attribute cases of diarrhea among these susceptible children to teething”
Meanwhile, earlier this week the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal SHUAIB, disclosed during the National flag-off of the vaccine at the Area 2 Primary Health Care Clinic, Garki, Abuja; that the rotavirus vaccine introduction has the potential to avert over 110,000 deaths in 10 years and added that the vaccine launch coincides with the commemoration of the African Vaccination Week, which is a weeklong affair that improves access to basic primary health care services and medical outreach services to teeming rural population.
“Every child will get the opportunity of taking this vaccine at six weeks; at ten weeks and at forteen weeks. That means they will get the opportunity of taking it when they‘re taking other vaccines. This is an oral drop, and it is easy enough for a child to take.
We cease this opportunity- our mothers, care givers, so that our children will be protected from this virus”, Dr. Shuaib added.