The Sunday News
Sindisiwe Sibanda, Sunday News Reporter
THE Ministry of Health and Child Care has vaccinated more than 400 000 children aged between six and 59 months against measles and rubella, in a nationwide vaccination campaign that started on Monday last week and ended on Friday.
The director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry, Dr Portia Manangazira, said they were expecting to at least have vaccinated 90 percent of the children by Friday but the figure only represented about 20 percent.
“The vaccination target for measles and rubella was 1 807 00 children and when we combined measles-rubella and Vitamin A our target became 2 200 00. Therefore, when we compiled the statistics for the three-day campaign 402 108 children were vaccinated, but we still have not received the data from Bulawayo, Chitugwiza and Gutu, Mwenezi and some districts in Matabeleland North,” she said.
Dr Manangazira said there was a huge gap, which needed to be covered to eliminate measles and rubella in the country.
“We are pleased as the Ministry that mothers and caregivers are bringing children for the routine immunization programme and right now we have to reach our target of 90 percent coverage of our routine immunization programme. It is good that our people have been forthcoming because when most of the children are vaccinated it automatically means that they are protected even if somebody is coming from those places that are prone to an outbreak of the diseases,” said Dr Manangazira.
She said the Ministry was impressed with the manner in which parents and guardians responded to the call to vaccinate their children.
“We want to thank the people of Zimbabwe for the great response. Some of the vaccination points were overwhelmed and I believe that some read about the outbreak in the USA, UK and there is an outbreak of measles and rubella in the DRC as we speak. As a country we are aiming at eradicating measles, as we once had a huge outbreak in 2010,” said Dr Manangazira.
She said the Ministry should have such campaigns every three to five years in an effort to reach out to everyone.
“Therefore, the campaign is meant to make sure that all children are protected from measles and rubella. We want to acknowledge the support from the Government for co-financing this programme, which has made it easy to access adequate vaccines not for the campaign but for the routine programme as well. We will like to thank all our health partners for supporting our provinces and city health departments.
“We are grateful that the campaign has been made possible for all children regardless of the financial status of their parents to get the life saving vaccines and for us as a country to experience good health,” added Dr Manangazira.