UNICEF hoping to immunise all Pacific children
The agency UNICEF says its raising awareness of immunisation in an effort to protect children with vaccinations, even in remote parts of the Pacific region.
The agency UNICEF says it is raising awareness of immunisation this week in an effort to protect children with vaccinations even in remote parts of the Pacific region.
Spokesperson Dr Ibrahim Dadari told Jenny Meyer the childhood vaccines are a cost effective way to save children's lives.
IBRAHIM DADARI: It's aimed at creating awareness of immunisation, trying to get our kids immunised with all the necessary vaccines. Even though we've made considerable achievements in immunisation coverage in the Pacific, we want to reach those ones, we call them 'the hard to reach ones'. So the essence is to create more awareness, get parents to take their kids to the health facilities so that they get immunised with these vaccines which are life saving and one of the, shall I say, very cost effective means of preventing childhood illnesses generally.
JENNY MEYER: And what sort of coverage do you have at the moment in terms of the percentage of children who are fully immunised at the moment in the Pacific region?
ID: Yeah, the coverage varies from country to country. So each country has its own specific coverage and it also varies for each vaccine. But on average some vaccines have coverage as high as 90 per cent of our target, while some are a little bit below.
JM: Which are the better countries at providing vaccination for their children?
ID: Most countries are doing good; except there are some little gaps here and there that need to be filled. Like Fiji for example has very high coverage of 94 (per cent) overall.
JM: And what are the main vaccines that you are immunising children with?
ID: The main vaccines we are immunising children with are initially we have what we call the traditional vaccines, those ones that started the expanded programme for immunisation which are BCG, that's for tuberculosis. We have DPT which contains three antigens for pertussis, tetanus and diptheria. Then we have polio vaccine, and then we have measles vaccine as well. Then there are newer vaccines that have come into the space which protect against pneumonia, we call it PCV. And then one protects against diarrhoea, we call it rota. And then we also have the one that protects against cervical cancer, which is HPV.
JM: What are the barriers for immunisation there that make it hard for people to protect their children in this way?
ID: The barriers for immunisation are generally in the Pacific we procure vaccines and vaccines are available but there are logistical challenges are around access. Because you have some regions or some islands that are hard to reach, there's difficulty in transportation. Sometimes they don't have, they might not have the storage, that is the cold chain. Because the vaccines need to be maintained at a certain temperature throughout distribution channels.
Dr Dadari says having children fully immunised really helps to protect them during natural disasters when the risk of disease rises.
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