Lauding efforts made by countries to save more and more lives through immunization, including during public health emergencies, the World Health Organization recently called for further acceleration of efforts to reach the nearly five million unvaccinated children in WHO’s South-East Asia Region.
“It is critical to identify who are missing vaccinations and reach them with life-saving 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 of WHO South-East Asia, inaugurating a recent three-day meeting of the Immunization Technical Advisory Group in New Delhi.
Myanmar’s urban immunization intensification is targeting 29 townships, while many countries in the region are also making impressive efforts for vaccination.
The WHO South-East Asia Region records about 37 million births every year, and of them over 88 per cent are now getting three doses of diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccines annually, an indicator of basic vaccination coverage.
Myanmar aims to achieve the goals and milestones of the National Immunization Program, which includes achieving zero polio cases, eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus, eradicating measles and controlling rubella and congenital rubella by 2020.
As part of the efforts for reaching its goals, the country conducted a nationwide immunization campaign during the second year in office of the incumbent government against 11 childhood diseases. Meanwhile, health care services together with medical check-ups were provided to over 8.7 million school children in the country. Deworming of students was also conducted twice in basic education.
As a result, every child has a chance to get vaccinated through the government’s nationwide immunization program. These are vaccines against Japanese Encephalitis, rotavirus that causes diarrhea, and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that can cause cervical cancer.
With increasing numbers of children suffering from Japanese Encephalitis, Myanmar has successfully launched a nationwide immunization campaign aimed at protecting 12.6 million children from the ages of 5 months to 15 years across the country.
Mapping hard-to-reach areas and populations, addressing social and cultural and other barriers to access immunization services, and closely monitoring these activities for progress, should be among our immediate priorities. Growing political commitment, stronger partnerships, and the relentless efforts of thousands of health workers and vaccinators are collectively helping save millions of lives in the region. With continuing efforts, even more lives can be saved. Thanks to vaccines, dangerous diseases are quite preventable today. For the health and well-being of your children, and the community in general, please have them vaccinated.