With almost 20 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world, the Eastern Cape health department is ready to do its bit in helping to decrease the number.
This, as the world observes world immunisation week from Monday until Sunday under the World Health Organisation (WHO) theme: Vaccines Work.
World immunisation week comes just three months after the provincial health department was slammed by the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) of failing to provide adequate primary healthcare – something provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo dismissed at the time.
Kupelo said the province was ready to deal with the 11 types of illnesses that have vaccinations in the country.
Kupelo said they had all the necessary medication to meet the demand as they had ongoing campaigns aimed at promoting vaccinations such as human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccinations at school.
“Between February and March, the department ran a vaccination campaign and there will be another one around June.
“We also have medication available in clinics and in medical depots,” he added.
The spokesman admitted that they still have challenges in ensuring that everyone, especially those in rural areas have access to health facilities.
“We have clinics in all areas and where there is none we provide mobile clinics.
“We also acknowledge that some areas have had problems with mobile clinics but that is not around the whole province.
“We also have school programmes that look at children’s primary healthcare as a whole. Protocols are followed to ensure safekeeping of vaccines as they require refrigeration,” he said.
The damning SAMJ report slammed the health department for what it said was its failure to properly vaccinate babies in the mostly rural OR Tambo region.
In a statement, WHO said: “World immunisation week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunisation saves millions of lives and is widely recognised as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions.
“Today, there are still 19.4 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world.”