A meeting of experts in disease prevention has concluded that government alone could no longer finance immunisation for some 7.2 million of children in need of life-saving vaccines, insisting it was “getting very expensive to fully immunise a child.” It is not looking to bring private-sector assistance into vaccine procurement to take care of at least 7.2 million children each year—a population that’s growing by 2.5% annually, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency. The agency said new vaccines introduced since last year—with some expected to come into routine use as soon as next year—alongside the increase in number of children in need of vaccines has pushed up the government’s vaccine bill. Vaccines this year alone could cost some $150million and reach $420million by 2020, said Dr Muhammad Ado, executive secretary of the agency. That is a gap of nearly $270million in funding for vaccines.
“The reason we are bringing in the private sector is because the landscape is widening in terms of financial requirement for funding immunisation in Nigeria.” At least four new vaccines have been introduced since last year—including that for pneumococcal diseases, cervical cancer, rotavirus, and an inactivated form for polio vaccine, in addition to a pentavalent form that combines five antigens in a single dose. “What it translates to is that it is getting more expensive to fully immunise a child in Nigeria, and there is nowhere in the world where government alone [pays for] immunisation of children,” said Dr Ado. Private sector is expected to step in under a Special Vaccine Funding arrangement: individuals “adopt” children in their localities by contributing to a fund that will be managed between government and private sector. But the government will still lead the effort, according to the experts who specialise in routine immunisation.