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Vaccination Raises Hopes Of Curbing Infant Mortality 

By Franca Sulem

The free country-wide vaccination campaign that ran from May 12 to 15 has raised hopes of drastically curbing infant and maternal mortality. Women and children received free treatment and vaccination against diseases like malaria and tetanus, amongst others.

All pregnant women and women aged between 15 to 39 years were entitled to anti-tetanus vaccines. Preventive treatment on diseases like malaria and measles, amongst others, were given to women carrying at least four-month pregnancies, while mothers of at most two-month old babies received Vitamin A to enhance their nutrition. Children from 0 to 5 years were entitled to worm medicines and Vitamin A. Those aged below six in the North, Far North and Adamawa Regions received vaccines against poliomyelitis. "Overall, eight free vaccines have been administered to women and children.

These included vaccines against BCG, Poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Hepatitis, Meningitis, Yellow Fever, Rouva and VAT," a Senior Nurse at Olembe District Hospital, Lucie Tarminir Keyi, told the Post. Explaining the rational behind the AVW, the WHO representative, Dr. Charlotte Faty Ndiaye, said it has been launched to increase the rate of targeted persons involved in vaccination campaigns in Africa. She expressed regret that the coverage rate of vaccination campaigns are still low in Africa, as women and children are not sufficiently touched, despite the routine of  campaigns organised.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Louis Sambo, emphasised that although mortality due to immunisation had declined by 89 percent between 2000 and 2008, and in 2009, an estimated 3.6 million kids were not reached at all by vaccines and six million did not get all the vaccines.
AVW is intended to re-enforce vaccination programmes in Africa and raise awareness on the importance of women and kids to be protected from preventable diseases, he stated.

The free vaccination campaign was organised by the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation, WHO, UNICEF and some NGOs to mark the first African Vaccination Week, AVW, coupled with the Week of Health Action, Infant and Maternal Nutrition. Presiding at the opening ceremony at Olembe District Hospital in Yaounde, Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, said the overall aim is to curb infant and maternal mortality by fortifying women and children. He added that it is equally intended to sensitise the population on the merits of vaccination and nutrition.

The Minister said an efficient team has been put in place to attend to women and children either in hospitals or at their homes in remote areas. "The campaign targets the over 4,000,000 children and 900,000 pregnant women. About 5,000,000 people are concerned," he stated and exhorted Cameroonians to massively take advantage of this opportunity.

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