Routine Immunization in Nigeria: The Role of Politics, Religion and Cultural Practices

World Health Organization estimates indicate that close to a million children (868,000 children) under the age of five years die in Nigeria each year. This places Nigeria in the second position in terms of global annual childhood deaths after India. Many of these deaths are caused by vaccine-preventable diseases.

Historically, politics has played a major and frequently destabilizing role in routine immunization uptake in Nigeria. Beginning from 1979 when Nigeria’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) was established, politics has been a key factor in routine immunization in Nigeria. One such theory is that polio vaccination and other vaccines are a part of a western plot to sterilize young girls and eliminate the Muslim population.

However, it can be said that religion often works in concert with other factors rather than alone. Cultural practices, like religion and politics, play a key
role in uptake of routine immunization.