Ehanire announced this at the launch of the free Integrated Medical Outreach Programme (I-MOP) on Monday in Bwari, FCT.

The minister said that in 2017, an indicator cluster survey revealed that only 33 per cent of Nigerian children had received full doses of the benchmark Penta-3 vaccine.

He added that it was due to the high number of unimmunised children that a state of “Public Health Concern” on routine health was declared on June 17, 2017.

He said “the national emergency for routine immunisation, coordination centre was set up in states to use innovative approaches to scale up immunisation coverage.

“This was to protect the large population of unimmunised children.

“There has been significant signs of improvement in the exercise because the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) shows improved immunisation performance from 38 per cent in 2013 to 50 per cent in 2018.

“However, in spite of this improvement, more than three million Nigerian children are yet to be immunised.”

Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health. [Twitter/@OsagieEhanire]
Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health. [Twitter/@OsagieEhanire]

In spite of the success, the minister said, the polio virus was still endemic and needed strong mitigation strategy to forestall re-emergence.

He added that “it is to identify and address this that the ministry, through the National Health Care Development Agency, is working with other development partners to sustain the gains and promote equity by targeting underserved and vulnerable populations.

“This is where I-MOP comes in, to reach out to underserved population with basic medical and surgical services, life-saving vaccines and forestall polio resurgence.’’

Ehanire added that a three-round of I-MOP activities would be carried out in the lowest-performing 409 local government areas.

He also said it would include a medical outreach in each of the 109 senatorial districts in the 36 states and the FCT.

This, the minister said, would run from March 23 till March 27, April 20 till April 24 and June 1 till June 5, following the launch of activities by various state governments.

The dividend of the exercise, Ehanire said, was to ensure that no child would be without access to primary health services.

It would also mean that more children would be protected from diseases while gaining the chance of a healthier childhood, he added.

Ehanire, while encouraging parents and guardians to ensure their children and wards benefitted, added that the vaccines were free, safe and effective.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that I-MOP is organised by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.