The government of Nigeria has integrated a rotavirus vaccine into its national program expected to prevent 50,000 deaths of children per year from the diarrheal disease.
But this development came amid shortages of the vaccine in countries such as Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, made this known during the launch of the rotavirus vaccine that coincided with the commemoration of Africa Vaccination Week held in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
At the event, many young children received the vaccine for free, while authorities urged citizens to embrace the measure. But Shuaib said the vaccine would be taken with other vaccines.
“They’ll get the opportunity of taking it when they’re taking other vaccines. We need to seize this opportunity — mothers, caregivers — so that our children will be protected from this virus.”
However, WHO said Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrheal disease in children under 5 years old. And that globally, up to 200,000 children die each year from the disease.
Yet, authorities affirmed that the oral vaccine could prevent up to a third of severe diarrhoea cases in Nigeria.
“The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine provides the opportunity to reduce the number of children dying every day from diarrheal disease caused by rotavirus”.
But this month, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline said manufacturing challenges had led to a shortfall of 4 million doses of the rotavirus this year, as well as delays in delivery.
According to GAVI-the Vaccine Alliance, the company already said it would reduce deliveries of the rotavirus vaccine by 10 million a year between 2022 and 2028.
Also, a research fellow at Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Moses Njoku said a shortfall should not be a challenge to Nigeria.
“The issue of them thinning out shouldn’t be a threat to a country like Nigeria if we use our internal potential. Nigeria is beginning to see the need to start indigenous efforts to start research and production, development of vaccines, as well as production of known vaccines. Authorities must take delivery of the rotavirus vaccines in batches to avoid waste”.
If care is not taken, they will not be imported at the right time. Some might ship with little time left before an expiration date. So, eventually, you won’t even use up to 10,000 doses and you have paid the money. The supply chain management system is also very poor”.
WHO country representative, Walter Kazadi Mulombo, officials from the World Health Organization, the United Nations children’s agency and, Nigeria’s Health Ministry attended the launch.