Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Community Health Workers praised as immunisation week starts


A child gets immunised at Busanza Health Centre. Immunisation averts an estimated 2-3 million deaths every year
The commitment of Community Health Workers (CHW) has contributed a great deal to achieving noteworthy immunisation coverage in Rwanda, a specialist in Vaccine Preventable Diseases Immunisation unit in the Ministry of Health has said.

According to the 2010 Demographic Health Survey, 90 pe rcent of Rwandan children are immunised against preventable diseases.

Speaking in line with global immunisation week which started yesterday, Hassan Sibomana stated that CHWs have done a good job in sensitising the people in their communities and ensuring that every child within their communities is immunised.

“There are records of those who get immunised and those who miss so CHW’s always go to look for those who miss, they find out why and do follow up to ensure that every child gets immunised,” he said.

Sibomana stated that this has been very helpful since parents now take their children for immunisation.

He added that right now almost every parent knows why it’s important to immunise their children through social mobilisation and the awareness programmes at community level and through the media.

Sibomana, however, pointed out one outstanding challenge in urban areas, where he said people keep shifting so it’s hard to keep truck of those who miss immunisation if they have no fixed residences.

Rwanda hit the MDG4 target on child mortality, and according to a report from UNICEF, child mortality rates in the country reduced from 156 deaths per 1,000 children to 54 deaths per 1,000 children born annually.

Government spends $2 million on vaccines every year.

The country was last year also recognised for the co-financing and sustainability of the immunisation systems. GAVI pays for some of the vaccines and the government contributes a certain amount to access vaccination. 

Vaccination for Hepatitis B and influenza was introduced in 2002. Children in Rwanda have been receiving vaccination with over 11 diseases being vaccinated against since 2008.

In 2009, Rwanda became one of the first developing countries to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia, according to UNICEF.

Two more vaccines – Rotavirus and HPV – were added in 2011 to prevent against diarrhoea and cervical cancer.

According to the 2010 Demographic Health Survey, immunisation coverage in Rwanda stands at 90 per cent now.

With GAVI support, this year, the measles and rubella vaccine have been incorporated into routine immunisation.

Vaccines to fight one of the primary causes of pneumonia, rotavirus diarrhoea and HPV vaccine were also introduced, putting the number of vaccines rolled out in Rwanda to 12. 

Immunisation averts an estimated 2-3 million deaths every year, providing protection from diphtheria, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus, according to World Health Organisation. 

But an estimated 22 million infants are not fully immunised with routine vaccines worldwide.

World Immunisation Week, that began on April 20 aims at promoting one of the world’s most powerful tools- vaccinations. It is for uniting countries across the globe for a week of vaccination campaigns, public education and information sharing.


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