Ministry of Health launches new vaccines

WINDHOEK; The Ministry of Health and Social Services launched three new vaccines in Windhoek on Tuesday.

The event, which took place at the Okuryangava Clinic in Katutura, also served as the launch of National Maternal and Child Health Week.

The pneumococcal, rotavirus, and Hepatitis B vaccines target newborn babies, and specifically target the leading causes of morbidity and mortality amongst babies – pneumonia and diarrhoea.

The ministry also received seven new vehicles from the delegation of the European Union (EU) in Namibia. Six Toyota Hilux pick-ups and one Land Cruiser Prado were handed over to the ministry as part of the Programme for Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PARMaCM), a joint programme involving the Health Ministry, EU delegation and World Health Organisation (WHO).

PARMaCM was initiated to accelerate the reduction of maternal and child mortality in Namibia.

The vehicles will be deployed in six districts, namely Opuwo in the Kunene Region; Okongo in the Ohangwena Region; Keetmanshoop in the Karas Region; Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region; Gobabis in the Omaheke Region and Outapi in the Omusati Region.

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi said Namibia is thankful to its partners for complementing Government’s efforts in providing health care for all Namibians.

He added that new vaccines are being introduced and strategies deployed to reach new targets.

“Strong immune systems as part of a broader health system, closely coordinated with other primary health care delivery programmes, are essential for achieving immunisation goals,” said the minister.

Meanwhile, WHO representative Monir Islam said National Maternal and Child Health Week reinforces the Expand Programme on Immunisation (EPI) by emphasising activities that reach the unreached, such as the populations in rural and/ or border areas, as well as those with limited access to regular immunisation services.

National Maternal and Child Health Week takes place nationwide from 17 to 21 November. It provides an opportunity to strengthen immunisation services and systems through advocacy, education and communication tools and activities.

The goal of the initiative 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 vaccine preventable diseases such as polio, tetanus, measles, whooping cough, and influenza.

All unvaccinated children and those running behind schedule will be targeted, and all children under the age of five will receive all the required vaccines. In the same week, women of child-bearing age will also receive Tetanus vaccines.

The Health Ministry also launched the national Maternal, Perinatal and Neonatal Death Review Report which covers April 2010 to March 2012.

The report is a response to the ministry’s decision made in 2010 for every maternal and newborn death to be accounted for.