First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic having an adverse impact on every sector, the government has been able to achieve great success in the Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign, immunizing 15,500 more children than the initial target.
In the campaign implemented in two phases, as per the Family Welfare Division (FWD) under the Department of Health Services, a total of 2,563,810 children from across the country were immunized. The government had set a target to vaccinate 2,548,336 children aged between nine months and five years.
Under the campaign, 414,694 children were vaccinated in Province 1, while 717,243 children were immunized in Province 2. Similarly, 405,318 children were vaccinated in Bagmati Province and 183,473 children in Gandaki Province. Likewise, 160,848 children were vaccinated in Karnali Province, 449,509 in Province 5, and 232,725 in Sudurpaschim Province.
According to Dr Jhalak Gautam, chief of Child Health and Immunization Service Section under the Family Welfare Division, there is a separate regular vaccination service for the children between one and 15 months. “This campaign was an additional vaccination service for children between nine months and five years to ensure that no child has missed the vaccination,” he said. DrGautam mentioned that the campaign was completed successfully by adopting safety measures amid the lockdown.
This campaign supports the government to reduce the number of deaths and cases of disability in children and meet the World Health Organization (WHO)’s goal of eliminating MR by 2023.
The first phase of the campaign was carried out from February 13 to March 13 in Provinces 1, 2 and 5. Likewise, the second phase of the campaign was implemented from March 14 with a plan to complete it on April 12 in Bagmati, Gandaki, Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces. However, the second phase was halted on March 23 by the Ministry of Health and Population due to the spread of the COVID-19. As a result, the MR vaccination campaign was put on hold for a month in 43 districts.
Considering the risks of other health problems to the children without the vaccination, the campaign was again resumed following an order of the Supreme Court and the decision of the Cabinet.
The FWD conducted the campaign in Kathmandu Metropolitan City from June 25 to July 5 by adopting all necessary safety measures.
According to FWD, 14,801 children who had missed the MR vaccination were vaccinated in the campaign. The vaccination service this time was provided by healthcare workers visiting the concerned children’s homes.
Province-wise, 717,423 children of Province 2 received the MR vaccine, which is 134 per centof the target. The government had a target to immunize 526,85 children in Province 2. In terms of progress percentage, Bagmati Province marked the lowest participation of only 450,318 children which is 745 of the target. The vaccination campaign in Bagmati Province was started on March 14 but it got affected as the government announced a nationwide lockdown from March 24.
The MR campaign involved the mobilization of 9,000 health workers, 100,000 volunteers and 5,000 supervisors. Moreover, development partners like GABI, WHO, UNICEF, Rotary, Lions International, Nepal Red Cross Society, Water Aid, and Ncell, among other stakeholders provided support to the government.
Telecom operator,Ncell,provided support to the government to raise awareness about the vaccination campaign under its corporate social responsibility initiative.
The measles and rubella vaccine were first introduced in Nepal in 2004. Since then, vaccination campaigns have been conducted at an interval of four years. Although the government had set a target of eradicating MR from Nepal in 2019, this goal could not be achieved as many children had not been vaccinated against measles and rubella. So the government launched this vaccination campaign. The measles and rubella vaccine is given in two doses at nine months and 15 months.
There have been instances which have shown that measles can cause severe complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection, and pneumonia while rubella causes irreversible birth defects. Along with the campaign, the government had also conducted a polio program in 19 districts of theTarai in which 1,637,265 children received polio drops.
Picture credit: cdc.gov
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