Vaccination for every infant and child
The immunization coverage for 2013 shows some improvement over previous years, with 89% of infants receiving the recommended three doses of Pentavalent vaccine which protects against five diseases (diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis and haemophilus influenza); and 83% vaccinated against measles.
This week, the health ministry announced a vaccination drive, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to cover the entire country starting on Monday 19 May and running the whole week.
During these five days immunization services will be provided to children in all regions. The Ministry of Health and Social Services said immunization improves children’s health and prevents common childhood diseases in the future. At the launch, the Delegation of the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) handed 95 refrigerators and 37 vaccine ice packs to the ministry.
This medical equipment is part of the partnership programme between the ministry, the EU and the WHO for Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PARMaCM) to improve maternal and child health care services in only six districts.
The African Vaccination Week was endorsed by the 60th session of the WHO Regional Committee in September 2010 and came into effect 2011. This year marks the fourth year of the campaign.
The vaccination week provides an opportunity to strengthen immunization services and systems through advocacy, education and communication tools and activities. The goal is to strengthen immunisation programmes by drawing attention to and increasing awareness of the importance of every person’s, particularly every child and woman’s need and right to be protected from preventable diseases such as polio, tetanus, measles, whooping cough, and influenza.
Through this initiative routine immunization will be strengthened as an important part of essential health services in all 35 districts and 14 regions particularly those that are isolated and difficult to reach.
The Minister of Health, Dr R N Kamwi said “Although the coverage of above 80% is reported at national level, 7 out of 35 districts could not achieve the expected 80% immunization coverage in all vaccines. It is estimated that 17,632 children have not received the recommended measles vaccination for their age, and that is a huge concern.
The country still experiences sporadic outbreaks of measles which is an indication that all our children are not fully vaccinated.”
The WHO representative, Dr Islam, said “Vaccines are among the 21st century’s most successful, most cost-effective, high-impact and most long-lasting and equitable public health tools for prevention of disease, disability and death. Supporting routine immunization during the African Vaccination Week leads to healthy communities and progress to the achievement of the MDG 4.”