Achieving Universal Child Immunization– A Shared Responsibility
Kampala, Uganda, 24 April 2014 - This week, Uganda joins the rest of Africa to observe “African Vaccination Week.” The theme this year is “Vaccination – A shared responsibility.”
During this week, the Ministry of Health in Uganda, the United Nations and other partners encourage leaders, parents, guardians and communities to renew their commitment towards ensuring that all children in Uganda are fully immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, measles, pneumonia, and tetanus.
Every year, immunization saves the lives of 2-3 million children. Immunization is safe, free, and effective. It is therefore critical that every child, regardless of where he or she lives, is fully immunized.
Children who are immunized are protected from dangerous diseases, which often lead to disability or death. Therefore, investing in immunization means saving millions of children and helping them live healthy, happy lives, not only in Uganda but all over the world.
Over the past few years, the Ministry of Health through its Expanded Programme on Immunization and the Child Days Plus programme, that focuses on vitamin A supplementation, immunization and mass de‐worming, has observed an increase in vaccination coverage across the country. The percentage of children under one year by 12 months increased from 36 percent in 2006 to 40 percent in 2011.
In addition, last year the Ministry of Health introduced the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) to prevent pneumonia and meningitis. From 2011-2012, pneumonia was the second leading cause of death for children under 5 years in Uganda. The new PCV vaccine is now saving thousands of children from these preventable diseases.
However, despite the progress registered and interventions introduced, a large percentage of children, especially those living in rural areas, still miss out on the basic vaccines required to keep them healthy and alive. These children are vulnerable to acquiring major killer diseases which can easily be prevented if they arefully immunized.
The United Nations in Uganda continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health and other partners to re-emphasize the need to fully immunize all children by one year of age.
Let us take advantage of the government’s immunization programmes to ensure that we achieve universal child immunization in Uganda. Ensure that you take your children, especially those under the age of five, to health facilities and health outreaches for immunization, and encourage others to do the same. Through immunization, we give our children a chance to live and reach their full potential. They have the right to survive and thrive and we each have the responsibility to help them realize that right.