Maternal and child health days launched
Although Namibia has made progress in reducing under 5 mortality rate from 69 per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 54 in 2013, the immunization coverage has stagnated around 70% since 2006. The introduction of the Maternal and Child Health weeks has created an opportunity for unvaccinated children and those children falling behind on their regular schedule to have their vaccinations fulfilled.
The government, together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), this week launched the annual Maternal and Child Health Days with the introduction of two new vaccines to the routine immunisation programme.
The pneumococcal vaccine, which will protect children from pneumonia, together with the rota virus vaccine to prevent deaths from diarrhoea will be among the vaccines to be administered to children under the age of five years during the Maternal and Child Health Days which run countrywide from 17 to 21 November 2014.
In launching the MCHD and the vaccines at Okuryangava Clinic in Katutura, Minister of Health and Social Services, Richard Kamwi said the introduction of the new vaccines was another demonstration of Government’s bold commitment to avail immunization as a core component to the right to health.
“From today onwards, all children in Namibia will receive the two additional vaccines to protect them further from vaccine preventable diseases.” He urged all care givers to follow the children’s health passports and ensure the adherence to the immunization schedules.
Although Namibia has made progress in reducing under 5 mortality rate from 69 per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 54 in 2013, the immunization coverage has stagnated around 70% since 2006.
The introduction of the Maternal and Child Health weeks has created an opportunity for unvaccinated children as well as children falling behind on their regular schedule to have their vaccinations fulfilled. During the week long outreach campaign, children will also benefit from complementary interventions including Vitamin A supplementation and deworming.
UNICEF Country Representation, Micaela Marques De Sousa commended the government for showing commitment and responsibility to improve the maternal and child health of the population through investing in the procurement of life saving vaccines and through emphasis on programmes which reach the unreached.
“The investment on immunization will not produce the desired result if we fail to address the quality of our services. The vaccines themselves are very important, but a fully functioning and up to date cold chain system and an effective vaccine management system are also critical to quality service delivery,” she added.
During the same occasion, WHO presented seven vehicles to the Ministry of Health and Social Services, to improve access to health facilities by mothers and children and further accelerate the reduction of maternal and child deaths in the country. The vehicles will also further enhance the capacity of the Ministry to monitor and supervise clients who are often impaired by distances to visit health facilities.
“Transportation to health care facilities in time is crucial for saving lives. Mothers and expecting mothers, women who have just given birth, and indeed the new-borns and children below the age of 5 years are among Namibia’s most vulnerable populations,” said WHO representative, Monir Islam.
The European Union commended the government and other stakeholders in health on their collective commitment to improve protect children from vaccine preventable diseases. Dr. Zuzanna Beranova from the European Union emphasized the EU’s commitment to maternal and child as demonstrated through the Programme for Accelerating the reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality in Namibia (PARMaCM).
“The European Commission’s financing of PARMaCM as well as the financing of the vehicles is just one of the many ways in which we are showing our support towards the government’s strides to improving the health of children,” she said. Immunization is one of the many strategies being adopted by the Government of Namibia to reduce the prevalence of Maternal and Child deaths. A Maternal Perinatal Death Review Report, which was also unveiled this week, is a demonstration of how the Government is committed to account and reduce maternal and child deaths throughout the country. The study will guide health officials in the country to manage and new born cases and reduce mortality.