Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with a
population of over 140 million and it is one of the fastest growing nations in the
world. It has a very rich cultural heritage, with over 300 ethnic and linguistic
groups. The major ethnic groups are Hausas, Yorubas and the Igbos. The most popular
religions are Islam (mainly in the Northern Parts), Christianity (mainly in the
southern parts), and traditional African religion, mainly freely practiced alongside
other religions (Babalola and Aina, 2004).
The population of the Northern Nigeria is more than that
of the southern part of the country. The first census of Nigeria was conducted in
1911 about three years before creation (Yakasai, 2006). This means that there are
more children in the northern Nigeria than other part of the country. The issue
of polygamy which is largely practice in the northern part of Nigeria also contributed
to the large number of children in the area.
Childhood immunization is designed to improve child health
and reduce morbidity and mortality. Nigeria commenced immunization activities many
years ago, focusing initially on the control of yellow fever and smallpox. It launched
the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in 1979 due to global increased in
mortality of children under the age of 2 years as a result of vaccine preventable
diseases. The programme was successful at the beginning but declines in uptake of
the services were quickly observed. Joint efforts of the Federal Government, State
agencies and international organizations (UNICEF, WHO) led to Nigeria attaining
Universal Childhood Immunization (UCI) in 1991 (Federal Ministry of Health, 1992;
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