By Abdullahi Abdullateef
The Regional Director of the World Health Organisation, Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, called for an integrated response in a bid to end the spread of Coronavirus and other vaccine preventable diseases including polio and measles.
Dr. Moeti disclosed this at a press briefing held on Thursday, April 28,2022. She said: “The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases is a warning sign. As Africa works hard to defeat COVID-19, we must not forget other health threats diseases.”
Noting that vaccines are at the heart of a successful public health response and as countries restore services, routine immunisation must be at the core of revived and resilient health system.
Furthermore, she commended Nigerian government’s efforts with its recent integrated approach doubling routine immunisation and COVID-19 vaccination for mothers and their babies . The approach offered simultaneous vaccination of mother which otherwise known as whole family approach giving access to mother to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and other disease like polio, measles as well as getting the routine immunization for their children.
Adding that mass vaccination campaigns boosted COVID-19 uptake between January and April the percentage of Africans fully vaccinated against Coronavirus rose to 17.1% from 11.1%.
According to reports, the Africa Continent continued to witness a surge in outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases over the past years . Almost 17500 cases of measles were recorded in the Africa region between January and March 2022 representing a 400% in 2021. Twenty African countries reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year, eight more than that in the first three months of 2021.
Speaking at the press conference, Dr. Benido Impowa stressed that routine immunisation had been a long practice in many African countries but stuck with the impact of COVID-19.
He maintained that WHO is working with African countries devise smart approaches so as to scale up both COVID-19 vaccination and ensure restoring and expansion of routine immunisation services.