Namibia: Most Rural Mothers Understand Immunisation

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A room, a razor blade and her grandmother's safe pair of hands is all Sabina Shinedimba thought she needed to bring her newborn baby up, as nobody told her about the importance of immunisation.

She gave birth to Josephinu Inapandifike about a month ago at their village at Oyoongo, near the border between Namibia and Angola.

After a health extension worker explained to her about immunisation and its importance, she decided to bring her daughter to the Engela District Hospital.

"Growing up, I saw women in my family curing children who were sick with home remedies and traditional medicines. So, I never saw the need for hospitals because everything was done at home.

"But then the ladies who go around explaining things about health told me otherwise when I was pregnant. This is my first child, and I want her to be healthy. That is why I will follow the immunisation plan I am given here today," Shinedimba enthused.

According to a health extension worker in the Engela area, Bernadine Ndjendja, most rural mothers have a fair knowledge when it comes to the need for immunisation, but a poor understanding when it comes to the diseases being prevented and doses of the vaccines.

"After a lot of convincing and explaining, most young rural women understood the importance of immunisation, and we are happy that mothers are serious about it as well," said Ndjendja, who has been a health extension worker since 2014.

The latest expanded programme on immunisation (EPI) statistics from the health ministry show that the percentage of the vaccine given to babies six weeks after birth called Pentavalent 1 has increased.

Pentavalent vaccine is a combination of five others that are intended to protect people from multiple diseases.

In 2012, babies vaccinated with Pentavalent 1 were 90%, while in 2015, this number went up to 98%. However, in 2017, it dropped to 95%.

Pentavalent 3 is a vaccine given to babies who are 14 weeks and older. In 2012, 25% of babies were vaccinated; by 2015, the number had increased to 89%; and dropped again in 2017 to 88%.

The statistics also show that children vaccinated with Measles-Containing Vaccine (MCV) in 2012 were 79% in 2015 but the figure went up to 85% while in 2017 it dropped to 80%.

Meanwhile, the country representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) Rachel Odede said throughout the world; vaccines have proved to be a cost-effective way to keep children alive and healthy by protecting them from vaccine-preventable diseases.

"Thanks to strengthened routine immunisation programmes in Namibia and thanks to the caregivers who adhere to the immunisation schedules, many children in Namibia are benefiting from these immunisation programmes," Odede said.

She added that Unicef will continue to support the government of Namibia to ensure that every child in Namibia is reached with right vaccines so that their fundamental right to survive, to thrive and to grow is realised.

Meanwhile, the deputy minister of health Juliet Kavetuna this week called for toddlers and women of childbearing age (20 to 35) to get vaccinated during the African Vaccination Week, which is being held under the theme "Vaccines work, do your part".

The health ministry with the financial support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Namibia and Unicef adopted and nationalised the African Vaccination Week in 2014, which aims at raising awareness of the rights and needs of children and women to be protected from diseases which can be prevented by vaccines.

"The commemoration of African Vaccination Week shows political will displayed by the governments in ensuring that needed financial resources are allocated to strengthen immunisation activities to attain and sustain high immunisation coverage," Kavetuna said.

The deputy minister added that the African Vaccination Week would also provide an opportunity for countries to strengthen immunisation services and systems through advocacy, education and communication tools and activities. WHO country representative Charles Sagoe-Moses said the vaccination week is an effective way of reaching people with limited access to regular health services.

"Held annually since 2011, the initiative has resulted in over 150 million people of all ages being vaccinated, millions receiving Vitamin A and deworming tablets and about 35 million being screened and treated for malnutrition," Sagoe-Moses said.


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Publish date : 2018-06-07 13:58:14
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