Third African Vaccination Week to be celebrated 22-28 April

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The third African Vaccination Week (AVW), organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Region, will be celebrated from 22 to 28 April, 2013, under the theme “Save lives. Prevent disabilities. Vaccinate”, PANA reported here, quoting a statement from the organization's regional office in Brazzaville, Congo.

According to the statement, all 46 Member States of the WHO in the African Region are expected to fully participate in this year’s edition in order to strengthen immunization programmes.

They will draw attention to, and increase awareness of, the importance of every person’s needs and rights, particularly children and women, to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. They will also receive other high impact public health interventions.

The statement indicated that a regional launch is planned in Kampala, Uganda, for 27 April, to coincide with the formal introduction, by that country, of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine into its national routine immunization schedule to avert infant and child deaths due to pneumonia.

The third AVW is being celebrated at a time when significant progress is being made in improving immunization coverage in the African Region through the “Reaching Every Child in Every Community” approach and refocusing on the core elements of the immunization system.

In a message which will be delivered on the occasion of the Week, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Sambo, said "This home-grown initiative has an overarching goal of strengthening immunization programmes in Africa by drawing attention to, and increasing awareness of the importance of  every person’s need and right to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

He said the ambitious  goal is very clearly captured in the theme for this year’s observance: “Save lives, Prevent disabilities, Vaccinate!”

Over the next seven days, participating countries will undertake a variety of activities that will: raise awareness on the life-saving value of immunization; seek to increase vaccination coverage; reach underserved, marginalized and hard-to-reach populations with existing and new high impact child survival packages and other life-saving interventions.

He said: "It is gratifying to note that that since we started celebrating Vaccination Week three years ago, 40 countries in our Region are participating in this historic initiative, signaling to the world that immunization is a regional and national priority.

"I am proud to say that the African Region is making good progress in addressing vaccine-preventable diseases. We have achieved an 89% reduction in measles mortality between 2000 and 2009. The elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus had been validated in 30 countries in the Region by the end of 2012. All countries in the Region except one have introduced Hepatitis B and Hib vaccines and the introduction of newer vaccines such as pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and rotavirus vaccines is being scaled up."

Dr. Sambo said "A newly developed meningococcal A meningitis conjugate vaccine has been rapidly introduced by 10 hyper-endemic countries within the meningitis belt of West and Central Africa. To date, more than 103 million people have so far been vaccinated and no confirmed case of meningitis A has been reported in vaccinated populations

"We are even on the verge of eradicating polio. The Region has recorded a 63% reduction in the number of wild poliovirus cases from 350 cases in 12 countries in 2011 to 128 cases in just three countries in 2012 and Nigeria remains the only endemic country in the region."

Dr. Sambo appealed to communities to understand and demand immunization services, saying that "Vaccination is as good for children as it is for adolescents, adults and senior citizens. We should all vaccinate to save lives and prevent disabilities."

Last year, the African Vaccination Week was observed from 23 to 28 April, under the theme "An unimmunized child is one too many. Give polio the final push".
-0- PANA PR/VAO 20April2013



20 april 2013 14:08:59




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