Niger Places Two years Jail Term on Parents Against Polio Vaccination

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Nahimat Adekoga

The Niger State Government has said that any parent or caregiver who prevents a child from receiving polio vaccine, risks a two-year jail term.

The Executive Director of the State’s Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA), Yahaya Na’uzo, on Monday, in Minna, disclosed that law establishing SPHCDA, specifically sections 23 to 28, has made rejection of immunization services a criminal offense.

Na’uzo, who said that such offenders are liable to two years jail term, a fine of N50,000, or both, added that Niger was first to enact a law that would prosecute parents, who deliberately denied their children access to immunization.

According to him, passage of the Child Rights Act into law was also meant to protect rights of the children and right to immunization services.

The SPHCDA boss noted that the state last recorded wild polio case in March 2013, in Dakwa village, a border town between Tafa Local government area and FCT.

He said after that discovery, the state implemented eight rounds of immunization, with about 2.8 million children vaccinated per round.

Na’uzo explained that this year, children would be vaccinated during routine immunization against Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, Poliomyelitis and Diphtheria.

“Other vaccinations will be administered against whooping cough, tetanus, pneumonia, yellow fever, measles and diphtheria for pregnant women,” he said.

The executive director noted that though, Niger has been removed from the list of high risk states with polio transmission since 2016 but, there was still need to improve on routine immunization, especially in hard to reach areas.

According to Na’uzo, the state would implement only January, March and April 2017 rounds of Immunization Plus Days (IPDS), since it was no longer among states with high risk polio transmission.

He said the agency would collaborate with neighbouring states such as Kebbi, Zamfara and Kaduna to ensure surveillance and reduce cases of missed children.

The SPHCDA boss solicited support of traditional and religious leaders, as well as other stakeholders toward educating communities on need for total compliance.

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