Editor's Comment

Protect the future by vaccinating children

IMMUNISATION has helped avert thousands of childhood deaths. With routine immunisation, children are now protected against measles, whooping cough, tetanus and polio.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), immunisation is the process where a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.
The launch of the second round of the 2017 Child Health Week, under the theme ‘Our Children, Our Future’, should not be ignored by parents and guardians, who should ensure that children under the age of five receive the health care services that are being offered.
The child health week which runs from November 20 to 25, will offer various services to enhance child health and survival through strengthening and scaling up of health promotion and preventive services.
The more we have children immunised, the less of the infectious disease there is around, so the less chance there is of anyone catching it.
Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya, during the national address to mark the launch of the 2017 second-round child health week urged parents and guardians to turn out in large numbers with all children under the age of five at the nearest health facility to access free health-promoting services.
This free health service is the way to go for Government as we aim to have universal access to health.
Therefore, Government must be commended for its efforts to provide equitable access to cost-effective, quality health services as close to the family as possible, and as a result, there should be no excuse for any parent or guardian not to find time to take a child for this very important event that borders on the health of children.
This important exercise will help protect children against a range of serious and potentially fatal diseases. Once a child has been vaccinated against a disease, their body can fight it off better. If a child is not vaccinated, they are at a higher risk of catching and becoming very ill from an illness which could have possibly been avoided.
Zambia, like many other African countries, continues to face high levels of malnutrition and the current status of nutrition indicators among children under five years is poor and calls for concerted efforts not only from Government and its cooperating partners but parents and guardians as well.
The child health week targets to reach three million children with cost-effective but high-impact interventions.
The services that will be offered include Vitamin A supplementation, de-worming, catch-up immunisations and polio vaccination of children in 30 districts marked as high risk for polio.
The other services are growth monitoring and promotion, integrated management of childhood illnesses/management of sick children, HIV test and treat; and follow-up of HIV-exposed babies and cross-cutting health promotion activities.
It should be acknowledged that the benefits extend far beyond infancy and beyond the age of five.
The protection lasts years, keeping children from vaccine-preventable illnesses as they grow by decreasing the number of sick children who might make others sick, vaccines protect entire communities. This will also in turn make our health facilities less crowded with sick children attention during the child health week.

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