The dawn of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) re-echoes the need to harness innovative solutions that is critical to achieving health-related goals by 2030 and beyond. Over the years, the Federal Government has continued to embark on implementing programs in Routine Immunisation (RI).
While some progress has been achieved in national Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus 3 (DTP-3) with coverage rates reaching 69 percent in 2010, challenges still exist with coverage rates below the average for Africa; an under-ﬁve mortality rate of 138 child deaths per 1,000 live births making it the 18th highest rate in the world.
Current health interventions geared towards improving immunisation coverage within the country are insufﬁcient to raise the low-level health system equilibrium. The country’s transition towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) however provides a compelling opportunity to take stock on progress and inspire innovative approaches to improve routine immunisation as well as, engage the capabilities and competencies of the country’s vibrant private sector to harness viable innovations.
Understanding the importance of ensuring health innovations are targeted, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) and Nigerian Health Innovation Marketplace (NHIM) convened a National Symposium on Routine Immunisation with participants drawn from the Federal Ministry of Health, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NHPCDA), private sectors players and development partnerships such as United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF),World Health Organisation (WHO), Solina Health to explore Nigeria’s Routine Immunisation landscape and critically draw out pertinent needs that can be addressed by adopting context speciﬁc innovations.
Dr. Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, Chief Executive Officer, PHN explained that In Nigeria, there is a growing appetite for leveraging innovative solutions to address critical challenges across different sectors, however, there still is a need to strategically spur and harness innovations in the health sector.
“The Nigeria Symposium on Routine Immunisation builds on the gains of the NHIM to initiate the process of identifying promising innovations around Routine Immunisation. The private sector (encompassing large companies, SMEs, private providers, NGOs and social enterprises) are essential to spurring and supporting innovations in health as they possess valuable assets, expertise, capabilities, and resources that could be of immense beneﬁt to strengthen public sector routine immunisation efforts,” Dr. Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq revealed.
Prof Isaac Adewole, Honorable Minister of Health, who was represented by the Director of Family Health, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi stated that the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), introduced in 1978 which was aimed at providing routine immunization to children recorded initial but intermittent successes however embracing innovation to improve immunisation coverage in Nigeria is an opportunity the Ministry is happy to collaborate with PHN on.
“The Federal Ministry of Health will continue to collaborate with the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria to improve health outcomes in the country through the operationalization of the Health Innovation Challenge” Adebiyi stated.
Adaora Odukwe, Lead, NHIM, stated that to address the challenges around capacity, visibility, fragmentation and data in the country, PHN has launched the Nigeria Health Innovation Marketplace (NHIM) which focuses on 4 inter-related core objectives- Identifying and showcasing promising innovations; accelerating and creating linkages that will enable scale-up and diffusion; Investing for impact in selected viable opportunities and creating a convergence platform around health innovation within and across stakeholder groups.
According to Adaora “The Nigeria Health Innovation Marketplace has achieved significant milestones curating innovations that have touched thousands of lives in Nigeria. NHIM will continue to engage with business leaders, donor communities, ecosystem players and its private sector partners as it harnesses innovations in healthcare.”
Several studies in Nigeria reveal that misconceptions of routine immunization, inadequate cold chain equipment to store vaccines, shortage of vaccines and immunization supplies, health system challenges (insufficient funding, inadequate health workers, poor primary healthcare services), weak demand for immunization (parents are not aware of need for immunization, communities are not involved in planning RI services), religious concerns, security challenges, non-availability of vaccines are factors affecting RI in Nigeria.