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2012 Year of Intensification for Routine Immunization in Myanmar

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Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 12 September 2012: Myanmar has declared 2012 as the Year of Intensification for Routine Immunization. Immunization is widely recognized as one of the most cost-effective public health interventions.

Although the national Immunization coverage’s are high, there are still pockets of low coverage in many areas of country, specifically in hard to reach areas, migrant populations, isolated communities, conflict areas where immunization still remains below the globally accepted target of 80 per cent.

In order to address this issue of equity and achieve a more uniform coverage, the Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the GAVI Alliance is launching a campaign to intensify immunization activities from 2012 onwards. Plans of Action were developed to implement a two phase campaign in the next six months.

“Myanmar, through intensification of Immunization activities will target reaching an additional 70,123 children under one year old,” said Dr (Prof) Soe Lwin Nyein, Director Epidemiology, from Central Expanded Programme of Immunization (CEPI), Department of Health (DOH) , Myanmar.

The campaign of intensification activities will be implemented in two phases in the coming months. Phase one efforts will be in select low coverage villages of 61 townships targeting 16,277 children under one year old; phase two of the campaign will be in select low coverage villages in 118 townships targeting 53,846 children under one year old.
‘The consistent decline in infant and child mortality in Myanmar is a testimony to the serious efforts made by the Ministry of Health in extending child health services such as childhood immunisation. The recent substantive increase in health budget is expected to further contribute to overall improvements in health services and its outcomes,” said
Mr Ramesh Shrestha, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar.

“Despite many efforts there are still isolated pockets due to geographic and other reasons where services are irregular exposing children to potential life threatening infections requiring additional efforts such as the intensification of immunization programme. The current effort is expected to reach many unreached with precious immunisation services,’ said Mr Ramesh.

“In March of this year, as part of intensification activities, the immunization programme conducted a successful measles campaign immunizing 6.4 million children to accelerate progress towards Measles Elimination; these efforts directly help to contribute to reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 target by 2015.”   said Dr H.S.B. Tennakoon, WHO (Myanmar) Representative.

Myanmar will also introduce a measles second dose containing vaccine MV2 as part of intensification efforts during the later part of 2012. This will increase population immunity and mitigate risks of outbreak occurrences.

The national immunization programme will also be introducing a new vaccine, pentavalent vaccine in the coming months. Pentavalent vaccine will replace the regular DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis) and combines it with Hepatitis B, and Hib (haemophilus influenza type b).

The advantages to combining these vaccines are that there are less injections to be given to the children, reducing costs, reduced missed opportunities, and less work load for front line health workers.

The main strategy for reaching these unvaccinated children will be higher community awareness, advocacy meetings at sub national level, and updated immunization micro plan at village level and tracking of all unvaccinated children, the aim is to “ensure no single child is left behind”

For more information, please contact:
Dr Vinod Bura, Medical Officer, EPI, World Health Organizations, +95-1-250583-4
Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Myanmar, +95-1-375527-32,
Sandar Linn, Communication Officer, UNICEF Myanmar, +95-1-375527-32 (Ext: 1448)



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