The Nigeria Medical Association, Cross River State Branch has identified the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East and communal crisis in some parts of the country as factors hindering immunisation coverage in Nigeria.
Dr. Agam Ayuk, the Vice Chairman of NMA in the state, made this assertion on Tuesday in Calabar during the opening of the 2017 Physician’s Week.
The theme for the week is: “Declining Immunisation Coverage, Threat to National Security and Development.”
Ayuk, who is also the Chairman for the week, said some communities around the coastal areas and hard-to-reach areas were also hindering the holistic coverage of immunisation in the country.
He said it was time for the state and Federal Government to take bold steps in restoring peace and security in all nooks and crannies of the country.
He said: “The vice-chairman added that some health workers could not risk their lives in crisis areas.
“We are worried that cases of insurgency and communal crisis are hindering the smooth coverage of immunisation in the country.
“The healthcare sector is on the decline; the primary healthcare structure is not working as it is supposed to be. Healthcare has to be strengthened at the secondary and primary levels.
“The people have to be trained at primary healthcare level because most of the populations are in the rural areas and most health workers are not willing to go there.
“This is because of the poor remuneration of health workers. In view of this, we now have mass migration of doctors and nurses out of the country yearly.”
Ayuk said 70 per cent of immunisation sponsorship came from development partners, adding that it was important for government at all levels to adequately fund the healthcare system.
Also speaking, Dr. Betta Edu, the Director General, Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, said the state had over 464 hard-to-reach communities.
Edu said with 959 health facilities across the state, it had become very difficult to access the 464 hard-to-reach communities either by land or sea for immunisation coverage.
She said: “Our immunisation programme in the state is geared towards reduction of childhood morbidity and mortality through adequate immunisation coverage of all risk populations.”
Earlier, the keynote Speaker, Dr. Bassey Ikpeme, advised government at all levels to recruit more doctors and nurses into the health sector.
Ikpeme, who is the Chief Consultant, Community Medicine, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, urged governments to invest greatly on the development of primary healthcare centres across the country.