Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The 2012 African Vaccination Week (AVW) is to be held across the continent 23-28 April under the theme “An unimmunized child is one too many. Give polio the final push,” the WHO Regional Office for Africa said in a statement made available to PANA here Tuesday.
It said hundreds of thousands of health workers and volunteers would fan out across the continent on foot, bicycles, carts and horseback; in cars, and by river and air to administer life-saving vaccines to millions of African children, women and men.
Events planned by national authorities and other stakeholders during the week include activities highlighting the importance of protecting people from vaccine-preventable diseases; social mobilization and media campaigns; educational and outreach activities; public statements on the benefits of immunization by high ranking officials and advocacy meetings, among others.
“We are excited by the growing profile of the African Vaccination Week, a region-wide collaborative effort involving all our partners including governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and civil society groups,” the statement quoted the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Gomes Sambo, as saying.
“This year, our focus is to interrupt the transmission of wild polio virus, expand the use of existing vaccines and scale-up the introduction of new ones, in order to accelerate progress towards the fourth Millennium Development Goal,” he said.
The high point of the 2012 AVW observance will be a national launch on 26 April in Accra, Ghana, marking the simultaneous introduction of life-saving pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines into Ghana’s national immunization programme to fight pneumonia and diarrhea diseases.
The Accra event will also serve as the regional launch of the AVW, which coincides with the first ever World Immunization Week (WIW) -- designated to hold 21-28 April -- during which WHO will unite countries across the globe for a week of vaccination activities, public education and information sharing.
Initiated in 2011 and coordinated by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the goal of AVW is to strengthen immunization programmes in the African Region by drawing attention to -- and increasing awareness of -- the importance of every person's (particularly every child’s and woman’s) need and right to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
AVW was observed for the first time in the last week of April 2011, when over 75 million children, women and men in 40 participating countries were vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, Hib, measles and yellow fever.
-0- PANA SEG 17April2012