National integrated vaccination campaign launched
Low uptake of childhood immunization, particularly against measles and rubella has been recorded of late, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula said this week.
The ministry has also recorded a reduction in immunization of oral polio vaccine, inactivated polio vaccine, rotavirus, and pneumococcal vaccines in recent years, Shangula said in a statement on the occasion of the launch of the country’s National Integrated Vaccination campaign in Windhoek.
“These trends may have serious repercussions on the country, particularly with the re-emergence of wild poliovirus that has been reported in Malawi and Mozambique, as well as the circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus in the sub-region,” he added.
According to Shangula, low immunization among children means children are susceptible to several childhood diseases and risk hospitalization and even death at a very young age.
“It is important to note that if every Namibian child or at least 90% of our children are up to date with their routine immunization, then diseases such as measles and polio and many others mentioned above are completely preventable,” he said.
Shangula meanwhile said the ministry together with development cooperation partners has been busy planning for the campaign.
“Teams of supervisors of immunization at both regional and national levels will be dispatched before and during the campaign to enhance quality and accessibility of service to the communities. They will also engage in information dialogues and listen to members of communities to identify challenges being experienced in accessing services,” he said.
The vaccine strategies for the integrated campaign were developed based on the practical experiences and lessons learned during the COVID-19 vaccination drive from March 2021 to May 2022.
Speaking at the same event, WHO Namibia Representative Charles Sagoe-Moses said the integrated campaign further aims to address routine immunization to counteract the impact of COVID-19 on this essential lifesaving health service.
“The declining uptake of routine vaccination poses a threat of the return of childhood illness that the country has controlled over several years,” he concluded.