Freetown, June 8, 015 (MOHS) – The Ministry of Health and Sanitation with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other development partners have officially launched the second round of nationwide supplementary immunization campaign unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children 0-59 months.
Cross section of mothers and pregnant women in the Murray Town Community
This second round of National Immunization Days (NIDs) campaign aims to immunize 1,493,785 children (aged 0 – 59 months) against Polio, which can permanently disable or kill a child, and 1,344,407 children (aged 9 – 59 months) against Measles
Addressing the audience, mostly lactating mothers in the Murray Town community where the launch of the occasion took place, the Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah said nationally, Sierra Leone has achieved over 95% vaccination coverage prior to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak. According to WHO recommendations, countries should attain at least 90% national coverage and at least 80% vaccination coverage in every district. This coverage is ahead of several countries in the Sub-region and even beyond. This shows that Sierra Leone was well on the trajectory of joining the league of performing nations on coverage indicators.
Dr. Abu Bakkar Fofanah administering the Polio Oral Vaccine
The Minister said that as a result of the EVD outbreak, it was not possible to carry out mass immunization activities. Therefore a large cohort of our children has gone for a long period of time unvaccinated. The Health and Sanitation Minister warned that unless urgent actions are taken now to ensure that these children are identified and immunized at the earliest opportunity, the risk of an outbreak from a vaccine preventable disease such as poliomyelitis and measles remains real. We are already having reports of pockets of outbreaks of these diseases here and there in neighboring countries.
Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah addressing his audience at the launch of the National Measles/Polio Campaign in Murray Town
In the unfortunate event of an outbreak of vaccine preventable disease, the most priced assets of our nation- children will bear the brunt of it with adverse consequences. This will erode the human resource base of the country through the number of years of productive life lost due to premature deaths. This is why His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has prioritized the restoration of essential health services in the immediate post Ebola recovery plan. Immunization is an integral part of His Excellency’s Post Ebola Recovery Plan because it has been proved to be one of the most cost-effective means to invest in a child’s future and President Koroma is a believer in investing in people.
The Minister urged mothers to cooperate fully with the vaccinators when they visit their homes and to take the message to those who could not make it to the occasion. He advised the mothers to desist from the habits of using the Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Bed Nets (LLINs) for other activities such as fishing nets, ‘’Sapo’’ etc as that represents a complete misuse of these health commodities.
To ensure the successful coverage of the Campaign, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation together with partners including World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF), Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI), British Department for International Development (DFID) have mobilized volunteers, health workers, monitors and Social mobilisers to cover the all 14 health districts in the country.