Medical Practitioners in Edo State have appealed to Nigerians not to politicise health issues in view of its attendant effect on the populace.
The Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association, Edo Chapter, Emmanuel Osaigbovo, made the appeal on Tuesday while speaking at the 2017 Physicians’ Week in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Osaigbovo decried the effect of the rumours making the rounds on the social media that the military are allegedly infecting people with diseases in the guise of immunisation.
“Immunisation is not something bad, it’s actually good. Please, we should not politicise immunisation, because immunisation helps us to prevent childhood illnesses, for instance like polio, diphtheria, measles,” he said.
“So, if they now bring politics into it, it’s going to affect our health indices. Our childhood mortality rate is very high, Nigeria is one of the worst in the world.”
The rumour mills especially the social media platforms have been awash with stories of some sinister plans allegedly by the military to infect children with diseases through immunisation.
Although the claims have been refuted by the Federal government and military authorities, they created fear, leading some parents to reject vaccination while some others had pulled their kids out of schools in Ondo and Rivers last week as a result.
“The way I heard the rumours the other day, it’s very unfair. They said twenty-something children died the other day because of immunisation. So, me, I’m afraid,” a woman said.
“For now, I’m not sure I will immunise my baby, after all, I can do it maybe by next year not this year, I can’t try it.”
Doctors are not pleased with the development and as they celebrate the physicians’ week they called on parents to do the right thing for their children by ensuring they are immunised.
“The women refused for them for them to examine the children or do anything with the children. They refused, they said they don’t trust anybody,” Professor Vivian Omuemu said during her lecture on declining immunisation coverage.
“So, it’s going to be a problem. We need to do some targeted social mobilisation to educate people and dispel this rumours.”
The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr David Osifo, hopes the rumours will not lead to a rise in preventable diseases.
He said, “We have not been able to confirm any of these rumours. They are just rumours and we have been trying our best to convince our people that this is not true.
“Like you heard in this delivery just now, with this kind of rumours going round the rate immunisation is going to drop. And we are just praying that our children will not be coming down with immunisation preventable diseases because this rumour is doing a lot of damage.”
Dr Osifo urged the people to ignore the rumours and take advantage of the health programmes of the government to keep their children free of preventable diseases.