A report by DefeatDD, which aims to address the issues caused by diarrhoea, comments that “the day we have been working so hard” for has “finally arrived” in August 2022. The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine to Nigeria’s Expanded Programme on Routine Immunisation was lauded by vaccine providers and promoters internationally. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and the WHO were among the many organisations to identify this historic step.

DefeatDD states that “Nigeria has remained among the countries with the highest burden of diarrhoea”. The “most lethal” form of diarrhoea is rotavirus, and Nigeria has the second highest number of deaths worldwide. It accounts for 15% of all childhood rotavirus deaths under 5. However, from August 2022 a “new timeline begins”. The estimation that the vaccine has the potential to save nearly 100,000 children’s lives in Nigeria is promising.  

“We know that vaccines will make the most impact where the disease burden is the highest”. 

Thus, the “first phase” began in Nigeria’s Northern states. In three months, wider vaccine rollout will begin across the country. Furthermore, a staggered approach enables the programme to respond to lessons along the way.  

Data from WHO/UNICEF on reduced vaccine coverage during the pandemic indicates that “countries have struggled to maintain essential health services” amid Covid-19, conflict, and other factors. The rollout of this rotavirus vaccine, therefore, is “embedded” into a “broader push to revitalise routine immunisation: African Vaccination Week (AVW 2022)”.  

“Vaccines are only as effective as the primary health care (PHC) systems that put them within reach of each child”.  

Thanks to contributions from Gavi, the donor community, and wider partner networks, the Nigerian government has been supported. The work, they say, is not over. However, it is important to “celebrate, and pause in gratitude” for the transformational and potentially life-saving consequences of this development.  

To hear more about life-saving vaccines and distribution across the world come to the World Vaccine Congress in Europe, 2022. Get your tickets at this link.