Launch of Namibia’s 16th national immunization days (NIDs) campaign

WHAT:     LAUNCH OF NAMIBIA’S 16TH NATIONAL IMMUNIZATION DAYS (NIDs) CAMPAIGN

WHO:     Minister of Health and Social Services, The Hon. Dr Richard Nchabi Kamwi; Governor of Oshikoto, Hon. Penda ya Ndakolo; WHO Representative, Dr Magda Robalo; UNICEF Representative, Ms Micaela Marques de Sousa.

WHEN:     FRIDAY, 1 JUNE, 2012, 08H45– 12H30

WHERE:     Onayena Constituency Office, Oshikoto Region

WHY:     The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) with support from line Ministries, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other development partners will officially kick-off Namibia’s 16th National Immunization Days (NID) campaign.

The NIDs campaign aims to immunize 250,000 children (aged 0 – 15 years) against Polio and Measles, which can permanently disable or kill a child along with ensuring children; and to receive Vitamin A supplementation and deworming medicine. Namibia’s NIDs are estimated to cost N$14 million this year.

The NIDs will be over two periods: Round One: 5 – 7 June 2012 and Round Two: 10-12 July.

•    During Round One, Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) will be administered to all children 0-59 months, Measles to all children 9 months to 15 years and Vitamin A will be given to children 06-59 months.

•    During Round Two, children will receive the second dose of OPV along with De-worming medication to improve their health and nutritional status. De-worming medication will be administered to all children 1 to 15 years.

Nationally, Namibia has about 80% vaccination coverage. According to WHO recommendations, countries should attain 90% national coverage and at least 80% vaccination coverage in every district. Districts with under 70% Polio vaccination coverage include Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Opuwo, and Otjiwarango, among others.

With pockets of children who remain either not immunized or under-immunized, they are at risk of long-term illness, disability and even death. Extra efforts are being made to reach children in specific urban and remote areas where coverage levels are low.

Whilst Namibia has had no Polio cases since 2006, the country remains at risk due to outbreaks in neighbouring countries. The Government and its partners are determined to maintain this Polio-free status – and the success of the NIDs will be essential to ensuring this is achieved.

Also, in the past, Namibia had great success in fighting Measles. However, Measles outbreaks occurred from 2009-2011, with 4605 confirmed cases mainly from main towns of Opuwo, Swakopmund, Walvisbay, Usakos, Engela and Windhoek.

Parents are urged to immunize their children despite their routine immunization status, as any extra dose provides greater immunity and protection. Also, by immunizing your child, you not only protect their health, but also the health of your community. We therefore build a stronger and healthier future generation for Namibia.

To ensure the successful coverage of the Campaign, the Ministry of Health and Social Services together with partners including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Health Professions Councils of Namibia (HPCNA), Medical Association of Namibia, the Rotary International, the Namibian Red Cross, UNICEF and WHO, have mobilized volunteers, health workers, monitors and Social mobilisers to cover the 34 health districts of the country.

—-POLIO

Polio (Poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus and can lead to disability and even death. The virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. Where hygiene and sanitation are poor, young children are especially at risk. The Polio virus is spread through person-to-person, through consuming food or drinking water contaminated by the Polio virus. The polio virus may also be contracted through direct contact with infected stool or throat secretions.

Signs and symptoms include: difficulty in breathing, fever, vomiting, fatigue, headache, stiffness of the neck, pain in the legs. Remember polio cannot be cured.

—MEASLES

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that kills more children than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The virus weakens the immune system and renders children susceptible to fatal complications from diarrhoea, pneumonia, and encephalitis.

Be aware that children who survive Measles can have permanent disabilities, including brain damage, blindness and deafness.

Signs and symptoms include: runny nose, fever, red eyes, achiness and cough. Tiny white spots may appear on the inside of the mouth. Soon after, a red blotchy rash occurs, lasting up to a week. The rash appears first on the head and face and then spreads to the back, chest, arms and legs.

Source: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – Press Release – 30 May 2012