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WHO Launches Vaccination Against Child, Maternal Mortality 

By Vanessa Menyu & Dorothée Elouna*

World Health Organisation, WHO, has embarked on a free vaccination campaign to mitigate infant and maternal mortality in Cameroon. The campaign falls within the framework of activities to mark the first edition of the African Vaccination Week and the Mother and Child Health and Nutrition Action Week, commemorated recently.

Other key actors in the project are the Ministry of Health, Helen Keller International, Polio plus Rotary International and other NGOs. The campaign targeted the over four million children from 0 – 5 years and some 900 000 pregnant women in the country.

The targeted groups were entitled to free vaccines against ills like, Poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Hepatitis, Meningitis, Yellow Fever, Measles, VAT, Tuberculosis and Chronic Cough. Mothers of at most two-month-old babies and children aged 0 – 5 years were administered Vitamin A to enhance their nutrition.

It was revealed that deficiency in Vitamin A affects 40 percent of children under the age of five, and contributes to 29 percent of infant mortality. Failure to curb this will result in deaths of over 10 600 children every year. Key on the agenda is to achieve the 4th UN Millennium Development Goal which is aimed at curbing, by two-thirds, infant mortality and maternal mortality by three quarters.

According to WHO representative in Cameroon, Dr. Charlotte Faty Ndiaye, the campaign was launched to increase the rate of targeted persons involved in vaccination campaigns in Africa.
She said the campaign is meant to reinforce vaccination programmes in Africa and sensitise the population on the importance of everybody to protect themselves from curable diseases.

The Post learnt that, each year, vaccination saves about 2.5 million children and the world population, according to WHO officials. Going by a press release, which highlights the rate of maternal and infant mortality in the past years, Government had, since 2008, put in place a bi-annual programme to check the rise of the above mentioned ills.

In 2009, more than 19.4 million inhabitants occupied the 475.650 km square land surface of Cameroon. Men and women constituted 48 percent and 52 percent of the population, respectively. Urban areas were occupied by 48 percent while rural areas constituted 51.8 percent of the total population. Women ripe for delivery made 23 percent, while children from 0 – 5 years represented 16.3 percent.

The rate of unanticipated pregnancies and unexpected deaths stood at 42 percent and 15.3 percent respectively. The infant mortality rate was 74 percent. As concerns maternal mortality, the ratio was 669 to 100 000 for every live births. Recent statistics show that 40 percent of Cameroonians live below bread line.

Still in the information dossier, several reasons were advanced for the limited vaccination coverage. These include; lack of information, especially for people in rural areas. The media have equally been blamed for not sufficiently sensitising the population. Complaints against lack of trained staff and late allocation of funds to curb the ills were as well registered. 

*(Siantou University Students On Internship)

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