Success, hope and challenge go together in vaccination programme

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DHAKA, Nov 22, 2019 (BSS)-The sorry state of vaccination programme for children and pregnant women in Bangladesh has now become a story of by-gone days. People, especially the vulnerable segment of the society, have come across the light of success in vaccination programme, as the government came up with a scheme that promised to bring great relief to people facing woes of mortality and morbidity.

Delivering effective and safe vaccines through an efficient delivery system is one of applauded public health interventions in the country.

Reversing the afflicting health woes of the people, Bangladesh has shown a great and outstanding success in vaccination programme to save the children from 10 fatal diseases. The country’s success in this field has been recognized worldwide as Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has been conferred with the prestigious award in recognition of Dhaka’s outstanding success in vaccination to immunize children.

Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunizations- (GAVI), a global Vaccine Alliance, conferred the award on the Bangladesh premier. GAVI Board Chair Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala handed over the award to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York recently.

Dr Iweala, in his citation, said the ‘Vaccine Hero’ award has been introduced by the GAVI to recognize global figures whose dedication to the Vaccine Alliance’s mission has played a key role in helping GAVI and its partners to protect hundreds of millions of children across the globe.

It said this is an award for those who have set out a clear ambition and displayed urgency in providing life saving vaccines to children and ensuring that no child is left out.

Sheikh Hasina is a true champion of immunisation as well as rights of the children and the women empowerment, the citation reads.

Vaccination programmes aim to reduce mortality and morbidity due to vaccine preventable diseases. Under the immunization programme, vaccines are given to infants and pregnant women for controlling vaccine preventable diseases.

Bangladesh’s vaccine programme is very large in terms of quantities of vaccine used, numbers of beneficiaries, and the numbers of immunization sessions organized.

Directorate General of Health Services (DGSH) sources said the expanding vaccination programme started from April 7 in 1979 in the country. According to a survey, conducted in 1985, the rate of taking all vaccinations was only two percent between zero to one year age.

Sources said that in the past the vaccinations were given at upazila health complexes and hospitals only. After the survey, the progarmmes of giving vaccines has been expanded during the five years. Around 60 percent children were brought under the vaccination programme in 1990.

Later, different global children and health organizations including World Health Organiztion, UNICEF, CVP/PATH and USAID had taken different initiatives jointly to increase the numbers which called ‘Red Strategy’.

In 2003, the government had included hepatices B in the vaccination programme and introduced the AD syringe.

Later, in 2009, the government had introduced hive pentavalent and rubella vaccine. The first dose of the rubella vaccine is given at the age of nine months and the second dose at the age of 15 months.

In 2015, the government introduced Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) and IPV while the Fractional IPV were introduced in 2017.

According to another survey, conducted in 2016, the rate of taking vaccination of children was 82.3 percent though the rate of BCG vaccination was 99.3 percent.

Under the expanding vaccination programme, a total of 10 vaccines are given to the children. The 10 fatal diseases are Sagittarius, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough (Pertussis vaccine), Tuberculosis, Polio, Mumps (ham), Rubella, Homophiles, Influenza B and Pneumonia.

Family Welfare Inspector of Basaboo Satellite Clinic Dilruba Khatun told BSS that the children are given BCG vaccines just after the birth. Three doses are given in six weeks, 10 weeks and 18 weeks. The vaccinations of ham and rubella are given at the age of nine months and 15 months respectively.

DGHS Director General Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad said former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had praised the EPI programme and termed Bangladesh as a role model before the world.

He said many countries are now following the vaccination programme of Bangladesh.

Despite the country’s success, the government ought to emphasize on preventive, rather that curative solutions. And there is need to strengthen the public health system especially at the village level for more coverage and for the successful implementation of the National Immunization Programme.

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