14 May 2014 16:30pm
WINDHOEK, 14 MAY (NAMPA) Health and Social Services Minister Richard Kamwi on Wednesday expressed concern that Namibia still experiences sporadic outbreaks of measles, which is an indication that all children are not fully-vaccinated.
Launching the National African Vaccination Week 2014 in the capital, he said although there was over 80 per cent immunization coverage last year, seven out of 35 districts could not achieve the expected 80 per cent immunization coverage for all vaccines.
It is estimated that 17 632 children have not received the recommended immunizations for their age, and this is a huge concern.
The immunization coverage in 2013 shows some improvement over previous years, with 89 per cent of infants receiving the recommended three doses of Pentavalent vaccine, which protects against five diseases - diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis and haemophilus influenza.
83 per cent of infants were vaccinated against measles.
The minister, therefore, called on all Namibians to take advantage of the National African Vaccination Week slated for 19 to 23 May this year, and to check whether all children are up-to-date with the vaccines they need.
All children aged zero to 59 months (under five years) will be vaccinated against preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, diptheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, influenza and measles.
All children from six months to 59 months will be given Vitamin A supplements.
Timing, they say, is everything, and this is definitely the case with vaccines as they are most effective when they are given at the right time, he said.
The Health Minister noted that the National African Vaccination Week is an opportunity to underscore the importance of immunization in saving lives, and to encourage families to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases.
The national vaccination campaign furthermore presents an opportunity to reach children with other effective interventions needed for their growth and development.
One such intervention is Vitamin A, needed for healthy growth and good vision.
Kamwi advised that an outbreak of diseases is a very expensive exercise, and called for concerted efforts to address the situation.
Immunization will continue as long as viruses are circulating. Thus, it is of utmost importance that everybody should understand the importance of immunization and provide the necessary support in order to reach all children and to get rid of these diseases, he stressed.
A high degree of community participation is needed, as well as strong collaboration with various agencies and organisations.
This is the first time that Namibia will join other countries to observe the African Vaccination Week, which will take place under the theme Vaccination, a shared responsibility.