By Anna Ingwafa
Earlier this week, Oshana Region launched the 2008 National Polio Immunisation Campaign and the administration of vitamin A drugs at Omusimboti.
The immunization aims at complementing routine immunization efforts in order to reduce mobility and mortality from preventable childhood illnesses such as measles, polio and night blindness.
At the launch, Oshana Regional Health Director Dr Naftali Hamata noted that immunizations are important because most of the communicable diseases such as measles and polio are no longer a public problem in the region, hence the last confirmed cases in Oshana were reported in May 2006.
Whooping cough has also been reduced to the bare minimum, according to Hamata, with only two cases reported last year.
The region also noticed a decline in malaria cases this year compared to previous years.
Hamata stressed that the combined efforts of a multi-sectoral response of the Government, the private sector, UN agencies and communities have helped to combat such diseases.
The region has deployed 653 people comprising of health workers, volunteers, supervisors, monitors and drivers during the campaign.
Hamata said the teams would ensure that the immunization campaign reaches every child in Oshana Region.
He said the immunization campaign should not be breached by religious beliefs.
Oshana Regional Governor Clemens Kashuupulwa called on people to work together towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aim at reducing child deaths by up to two-thirds by 2015 from the 1990 levels.
“Previous experiences have demonstrated that national immunization days are of the most effective strategies in the eradication of polio and elimination of vitamin A deficiency,” explained the regional governor.
He requested people to redouble their efforts in order to eradicate polio.
He noted that polio eradication will only succeed if the necessary funds are made available and through a strong political will in polio-affected countries.
“In Africa and across the world, it is our responsibility to inform and convince the entire population on the importance of immunization against polio and other childhood diseases. Our aim is to reach every child, particularly in marginalized populations, and maintain confidence and enthusiasm among health workers and volunteers through regular outreach, recognizing progress and encouraging improvement,” he said.
The governor called on parents and caretakers to bring children to the vaccination points at hospitals, clinics, churches, shops, schools and other temporary vaccination points.
About 21 789 children in Oshana Region under the age of 5 are expected to be vaccinated when the campaign that started two days ago winds up this afternoon.
The first round for the 2008 national polio and vitamin A immunization campaign targets newly born babies to 5-year-olds.
Children in the age group 9 months to 5 years will receive vitamin A supplement.