Coronavirus wreaks havoc on routine vaccinations

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DHAKA, Sept 5, 20 (BSS) – Garment worker Niloy Hossain and his wife Parvin Akter live in the capital’s Mirpur residential area. About two months ago Parvin gave birth to her first child. But she is yet to vaccinate her child. She wandered everywhere around her vicinity to get information about inoculate routine vaccines to the new born baby.

Whereas, announcement of administering life saving vaccines to children from time to time through loud speakers before outbreak of the corona virus was a very common. The couple is now very much upset as they failed to vaccinate their baby. The same plight is also for the Mustafizur Rahman’s family of city’s Mohammadpur area as he was also blessed with a baby during the coronavirus pandemic. He is even yet to know from where he can give vaccine to his baby. The scenario is not only for the capital city but also for the whole country.

The parents of the babies born during the coronavirus pandemic are paying tension with the apprehension of various contagious diseases infections among the babies following suspension of vaccination programme, specially the vaccines are given to prevent measles and rubella. According to the health directorate, 24 countries of the world had decided to run the measles and rubella vaccination programme lately due to the prevalence of the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) gave directives to the countries, those are not experiencing prevalence of measles, to suspend this vaccination programme temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic.

The preventable diseases that can be cured with vaccines, including the measles and rubella, have emerged in the hilly regions of Bangladesh. Health directorate sources said mother and children are usually given vaccines of 10 contagious diseases across the country under the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). The programme is run through on average about 6,500 centers every day, except the weekends.

The vaccines are given at the permanent centers set up in the areas of city corporations, different hospitals and upazila level health complexes. Outside the city corporations, there are 1,20,000 temporary vaccination centers across the country. The centers have been set up at individual houses in remote areas. Resident physician at the Dhaka Shishu Hospital Dr. Rezwanul Ahasn said Covid-19 is one kind of virus and nobody knows when the prevalence of the virus will go.

But in such a situation we have to pay attention to vaccination. It is true that now we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but at the same time we should not be defeated ourselves against the fight of different complicated diseases like tetanus, measles, rubella and diphtheria. We have to raise resistance against the diseases through routine vaccination. To this end, our advice is continuation of the vaccination programme; he said.

When contacted, EPI Programme Manager at the Health Directorate Dr. Mawla Box Chowdhury said that the COVID-19 pandemic has eventually halted vaccination to a great extent in some areas near the capital city. But we have tried our best to render health services through the health centers across the country, he added.

Gazipur sadar upazila Health and Family Welfare Officer Mohammad Shaheen admitted that the COVID-19 lockdown has forced them to suspend the vaccination programme, leaving many children unimmunized. According to UNICEF report, the number of vaccine receiving children in March 2020 in Bangladesh was less than 25 percent compared to March, 2019. This was due to disruptions in the delivery and uptake of immunization services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, it said, the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the health services of 10 countries — Bangladesh, Brazil, Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Tanzania — raising risk factors of death among the children in the next six months. During this period, the countries might witness additional 6,000 deaths among the children every day. The report, however, said Bangladesh government is also working to avoid such situation.

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