IN less than a week after it announced the introduction of two new vaccines, Tanzania has announced that it is in the final steps to introduce the Hepatitis B (HPV) and second dose of measles vaccines in 2014.
Last Thursday, the government announced the introduction of Pneumococcal Vaccine or Pneumonia Vaccine and Rotavirus Vaccines which are aimed at protecting children under five years of age against pneumonia and diarrhea. Vaccination starts early next month.
Speaking at the International Conference for Immunization held in the city, the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, said all the achieved milestones are meant to ensure all children country-wide receive vaccinations under the campaign christened as "Reaching Every Child Approach."
We need to ensure these children are reached by immunization services through the Reaching Every Child Approach. Our mission is to build on past achievements and use our knowledge and experience to save more lives," he said. He said the last Effective Vaccine Management Assessment conducted in mid-2012 indicated that Tanzania has greatly improved in the vaccine management at all levels.
Dr Mwinyi noted that Tanzania has expanded the vaccine storage capacity at National Vaccine Level five times compared to 2008 whereas in each region it has managed to install Movable Cold Rooms. The minister said the Cold Rooms have the capacity ranging between 30 and 40 cubic metres to ensure all traditional and new vaccines are accommodated.
He added that the country's priority was now on installing the District Vaccine Stores. However, he said there were some challenges accompanying the recorded achievements including shortage of skilled staff, inadequate allocation of funds to support immunization services, lack of reliable transport for vaccine distribution and lack of adequate funds for supervision at region and district levels.
The minister thanked the World Health Organization (WHO) for choosing Tanzania to host the 4th Annual Regional Conference on Immunization with the theme "Innovation, access and the rights of all to vaccines."
"This is an important forum in the African region bringing together partners and experts in the area of immunization to review the progress and make recommendation of the following year," he said.
The minister said the immunized children, who are protected from the threat of vaccine-preventable diseases, have the opportunity to thrive and a better chance of realizing their full potential.
He said Reaching Every District reaching Every Child approach has made Tanzania routine immunization vaccination coverage to be above 80 per cent in most of the districts in the country in five consecutive years and above 90 per cent at national level in three consecutive years.
Speaking at the event, Dr Luis Chambo of the WHO, said the introduction of the vaccinations was great achievements and the perfect illustrations of the progress the country has made in improving its immunization programme.
"The leadership and commitment of President Jakaya Kikwete has allowed Tanzania to remain on track in achieving some of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by attaining the highest immunization coverage in the last two years," he said.
The conference is attended by more than 200 participants from various African countries and Development Partners supporting various health programmes in the continent.