89 Percent of Children Immunised

AN estimated 17 600 children in Namibia have not received the recommended immunisation doses against child killer diseases for their age, the Minister of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), Richard Kamwi, has revealed.

Kamwi, who was delivering a key note address at the launch of the African Vaccination Week in Windhoek on Wednesday said this was a “huge concern”.

“This is a huge concern as the country still experiences sporadic outbreaks of measles, which is an indication that all our children are not fully vaccinated,” said Kamwi.

He said although immunisation coverage showed some improvement over previous years, only 89% of infants received the recommended three doses of Pentavalent vaccine, which protects against the five child killer diseases – diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis and haemophilus influenza – while 83% were vaccinated against measles, but seven out of 35 districts could not achieve the expected immunisation coverage.

Kamwi, however, gave assurance that theMoHSS will take the necessary measures to address the situation during the vaccination week, which takes place from 19 to 23 May under the slogan “Vaccinated Communities, Healthy Communities”.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative to Namibia, Monir Islam, aised the ministry to use the Reaching Every District (RED) approach to improve the country’s immunisation system and reach more infants.

The RED approach was developed and introduced in 2002 by WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and other partners to improve immunisation systems in areas with low coverage.

“Strategy RED has been applied in several countries worldwide, leading to improvements and it has now been introduced in Namibia,” said Islam.

Islam added that the ministry must now scale up the strategy to regional levels, in order to enable districts and health facilities to identify local problems and find corrective solutions, using their own data.

“WHO is therefore urging MoHSS to take aantage of the AVW to strengthen its routine immunisation systems and to ensure that quality vaccines reach all who need them at the right time,” he said.

Kamwi called on all local authorities, educators, health workers and parents to bring their children for vaccination to “ensure that vaccines reach the maximum number of children”.

The target population for the AVW is all children under the age of five years with special focus on routine immunisation targeting unvaccinated infants who are running behind on immunisation.

Source : The Namibian