19 Nov 2009

Marshall Islands immunisation head says help is needed

10:12 am on 19 November 2009

The Marshall Islands immunisation head says they need help to address a low vaccination rate on the nation's outer islands.

New data found 78 out of 1000 children on the outer atolls, where the immunisation rate is believed to be under 50 percent according to earlier data, died last year from illnesses.

International data suggests there's a likely link between the two.

Mailynn Konelios-Lang says sixteen out of twenty atolls do not have electricity to allow the vaccines to be kept cool.

She says health staff have to travel to the outer islands from the capital to immunise the infants with the required eight vaccines, adding it's an infrastructure nightmare.

She says they need help.

"We have fifty plus health centres [on the atolls] that would require solar panels for the cold chain equipment. We've been liaising with UNICEF, with CDC, requesting funding from external donors, to see if they could provide us with cold chains."

Mailynn Konelios-Lang.