Chad participates in the African Vaccination Week to improve routine immunization
By Nadim Boughanmi
N’djamena, 23rd April 2014 - The fourth edition of the African Vaccination Week is currently underway in several participating African countries including Chad.
With a main objective to increase all stakeholders’ awareness on the importance of routine vaccination for the survival of the child, the African Vaccination Week initiative aims to increase immunization indicators, through improved advocacy, communication tools and integrated health services and activities.
For this year’s edition in Chad, a particular focus was placed on traditionally low performing regions and districts, in terms of routine immunization.
Adopting the theme “Immunization is a shared responsibility” and the slogan “Vaccinated population, population in better health”, this edition of the African Vaccination Week in Chad places a particular focus on difficult-to-reach populations such island-dwelling populations of the Lake Chad region, as well as difficult-to-access populations in the Ouaddai region in eastern Chad, and in the capital N’Djamena.
While infants below the age of one year and pregnant women are the main beneficiaries of the African Vaccination Week, children aged five and below will also benefit from activities that aim to highlight the importance of providing them with better integrated health care services.
Alongside immunizations, a range of activities will be held as part of the events marking the celebration of the African Vaccination Week, including social mobilization meetings, integrated health activities such as distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide Nets and water filters for malaria and guinea worm prevention, awareness events with communities for information sharing and dialogue, training sessions for community volunteers, as well as a number of supervision activities.
Despite some recent improvements noted in Chad’s Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI) over the past few years, the country’s overall immunization indicators remain very low. As of 2012, only 70% of operational health centers in Chad provided routine vaccination services, and only 11 % of Chadian children have been fully vaccinated against all illnesses listed in the EPI schedule. The statistic drops to 5% for infants under the age of one. Similarly, only 9% of mothers of infants aged less than one were fully vaccinated against tetanus.
Tuberculosis, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, neonatal tetanus, whooping cough, yellow fever, measles, viral hepatitis B and meningitis haemophilus influenzae type B (i.e. meningitis in the newborn), are the illnesses covered by the Chadian immunization program. By 2015, it is planned to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine to the Chadian EPI schedule.
Institutionalization of the African Vaccination Week has helped increase the rate of immunization coverage and services in several African countries. The first two editions in 2011 and 2012 helped administer Oral Polio Vaccine to more than 150 million children in 13 African countries including Chad, while nearly 1.7 million people were vaccinated against measles in Eritrea and Cameroon.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org For more information:
Lalaina Fatratra Andriamasinoro, Chief of Communication, +235 66 36 00 42, firstname.lastname@example.org, UNICEF Chad Country Office Nadim Boughanmi, Communication Specialist (Polio), email@example.com, UNICEF Chad Country Office