WHO calls for strengthening efforts to reach nearly five million unvaccinated children

Kathmandu, July 17

Lauding efforts being made by countries, including Nepal, to save more and more lives through immunisation, the World Health Organisation today called for further accelerating efforts to reach the nearly five million unvaccinated children in WHO South-East Asia Region.

“It is critical to identify who are missing vaccination and reach them with lifesaving vaccines. Equity and improving vaccination coverage is the key to preventing resurgence of diseases, especially the ones eradicated with painstaking efforts, and for further reducing diseases and deaths among children,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director WHO South-East Asia, inaugurating a three-day meeting of Immunisation Technical Advisory Group in New Delhi.

The WHO South-East Asia Region records about 37 million births every year. Of them, over 88 per cent children are now getting three doses of diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccines annually, an indicator of basic vaccination coverage.

“Mapping hard-to-reach areas and population, addressing social and cultural and other barriers for them to access immunisation services, and closely monitoring these activities for progress, should be among our immediate priorities,” the regional director said.

Many countries are making impressive efforts, such as India’s Mission Indradhanush focusing on 190 districts; Indonesia’s intensified drive in 80 districts, Myanmar’s urban immunisation intensification targeting 29 townships; and Nepal’s efforts to achieve full-immunisation at sub-district level, read a press release issued by WHO South-East Asia Regional Office.

Growing political commitment, stronger partnerships, and relentless efforts of thousands of health workers and vaccinators, are collectively helping save millions of lives in the region, Dr Khetrapal Singh said. Member states have added several new vaccines to their immunisation schedules such as for protection against pneumonia, diarrhoea, Japanese Encephalitis and cervical cancer. Hepatitis B control is getting an impetus with vaccination. The region continues to be polio-free and maintains its maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination status.

The Immunisation Technical Advisory Group meeting, convened by WHO, is being attended by international experts, representatives of national immunisation technical advisory bodies and immunisation programme managers of Member States of WHO South-East Asia Region, as well as partners and donors, such as UNICEF, US Centres for Disease

Control and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.

The Advisory Group will review the ongoing efforts and challenges to reduce the burden of various vaccine-preventable diseases, and explore ways to strengthen routine immunisation and achieve measles elimination and rubella control in member states of the region, the release said.

Fully immunised district

KATHMANDU: Bhaktapur has been declared fully immunised district. Lawmaker Mahesh Basnet made the declaration amidst a programme on  Tuesday. With the declaration, National Immunisation coordination  committee provided a certificate to District Coordination Committee and District Pubic Health Office. Four municipalities of Bhaktapur — Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, Changunarayan Municipality, Bhaktapur Municipality and Suryabinayak Municipality — had already been declared  fully immunised earlier. “We have immunised all newborn babies and  children,” said Nawaraj Gelal, chief of District Coordination. He also said that the district had necessary resources to immunise children against diseases .Lawmaker  Basnet said the declaration was made possible with participation and support of the locals. Province 3 assembly member Shahi Jung Thapa stressed on  continuing the immunisation programme to save the lives of children.