20 December 2012

Tanzania: Ministry to Vaccinate 1.8 Million Children

ABOUT 1.8m children are expected to be vaccinated next year, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has said. The Ministry's Immunization and Vaccine Development Programme Manager, Dr Dafrassa Lyimo, told the 'Daily News' that the move is aimed at reducing deaths among children under five years.

"We understand that vaccinations prevent diseases and can prevent the death of our children. We are expecting to vaccinate 1.8 million children next year, starting from January 2013," she said. According to Dr Lyimo, they have been preparing for this programme over the last 18 months, after presenting their proposal in 2009.

About 20 per cent of children, who are in need of vaccinations, never get them. This could be because the services provided are not easily accessible to those requiring it or they are not getting the correct information in time. It could also be because of a literacy problem within the communities.

Dr Lyimo said that the ministry was not pleased with this situation and is always looking for ways to address the situation. At a one-day seminar in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, Dr Lyimo told journalists that two vaccines, Pneumococcal and Rotavirus, will prevent the spread of certain diseases in children. "Today we had a seminar for media practitioners.

We want them to know the concepts of the immunization services in Tanzania. "This way they will be able to write relevant information correctly, which will make sure the community understands the right concepts of what we mean when we talk about vaccinations," Dr Lyimo explained.

She also explained that Pneumococcal was the single largest cause of death in children world-wide, with those less than two years of age being most at risk. Rotavirus, she added, is a diarrhoeal disease caused by a virus called rotavirus, which infects the gastro-intestinal track.

The Programme Information Officer, Dr Ibrahim Maduhu, told the 'Daily News' the vaccines were imported through UNICEF, who are the procurement agent on behalf of the ministry, after being prequalified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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