Namibia immunisation: UNICEF unimpressed by coverage


Windhoek – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed dissatisfaction with immunisation coverage in Namibia for the past six years and has called for the intensification of outreach services matched with strong communication and social mobilisation across the country. 

   The UN agency revealed in its 2013 Demographic and Health Survey, that full immunisation coverage has been declining for the last six years.

It noted that immunisation coverage was at 96 percent in 2006 to 2007 and went down to 70 percent in 2013.

UNICEF country representative, Micaela Marques De Sousa, said although Namibia is one of the countries that demonstrate strong and effective leadership and national ownership of their immunisation programmes, which are key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of immunisation investments, more still needs to be done to produce the desired result in future.

“Vaccines are among the 21st century’s most successful, most cost-effective, high-impact and most long-lasting and equitable public health tools for prevention of disease, disability and death,” she said.

The UN official was speaking during the launch of the Maternal and Child Health Week recently at Okaryangava Clinic in Windhoek.

De Sousa said despite progress made, more still needs to be done in order to reach all children, mainly in rural areas, who are proving difficult to reach with vaccines.

There is also a need to identify and implement strategies to overcome barriers to ensure that the right of every child to protection from preventable diseases goal is reached, she added.

She said UNICEF, in conjunction with World Health Organisation (WHO), will try to put mechanisms in place to help Namibia and other developing countries increase immunisation coverage and provide new vaccines that can save more lives.

Meanwhile, UNICEF has welcomed the Ministry of Health and Social Services plan for measles campaign in 2015, following an outbreak in the country in 2013 with a total of 575 cases confirmed so far.

Meanwhile, Health and social Services Minister, Dr Richard Kamwi, has commended the newly released report on National Maternal Peri/Neonatal Death, adding that it would serve as yardstick for the ministry to reduce maternal death in the country.

The report would guide the ministry on the policy and strategy based on evidence to further reduce maternal, peri/neonatal mortality in Namibia and to make sure that every maternal and new-born death is accounted for.

“I trust the report will be used by all health workers to reflect on what is happening in our health facilities at the same time used as a learning and preventative measure for future management of similar incidences of maternal and neonatal emergencies,” Minister Kamwi said.

November 2014
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