Over 20,000 Children Receive Measles Rubella Vaccine in Lesotho.

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Vaccines have effectively lowered the scourge of illnesses like polio, measles, and smallpox for more than 200 years, enabling kids to grow up healthy and content. During Africa Vaccination Week (AVW), more than 20,000 children between the ages of 9 and 59 months in Lesotho received the measles-rubella vaccine. Despite the effects of COVID-19, Lesotho maintained high under-five immunization coverage in 2021 and 2022, exceeding 80% in 7 out of 10 districts.

Since its inception in 2014, African Vaccination Week has demonstrated exceptional success at closing the vaccine access gap by reaching populations with insufficient access to routine medical care. Additionally, it offers the chance to combine immunization services with child survival strategies. African Vaccination Week highlights the value of vaccines in our lives and how they shield both young and old people from more than 25 diseases that can be prevented by vaccination.  

World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative for Lesotho, Dr. Richard Banda, called on the government to ensure that vaccination maintains its role in the national development and security agenda while speaking at the official launch of the AVW in Thabana Morena in Mafeteng districts.

“The African Vaccination Week is an opportunity for us to catch up on the missed opportunities for unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children and to learn from our communities what the challenges are”, Dr. Banda explained.

He reaffirmed the UN family’s commitment to giving the government the support it needs, but he also asked all parents and other stakeholders to make sure that all children have received their routine vaccines.

“The UN Family remains committed to giving the Government of Lesotho the necessary support that is required to ensure that supply chain mechanisms are responsive for the people of Lesotho. We, therefore, need to act now to catch up with the thousands of children who missed out on vaccines during the pandemic. The ambition to ensure that every child has access to essential vaccines by 2030 is within reach”.

The Honourable Minister of Health for Lesotho, Selibe Mochoboroane said the government is dedicated to delivering primary health care across the country to ensure a healthy and productive populace. “Primary Health Care (PHC) is the first step in the provision of health care. It entails services such as immunization, family planning, anti-natal care, and treatment of common diseases, treatment and management of Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS counseling, amongst other services”, said Mochoboroane.

The Minister, therefore, appealed to all health workers to encourage parents to vaccinate their children. “The government is committed to bringing primary health care services to communities countrywide to prevent diseases like polio, measles, and smallpox. I urge parents to bring children to get vaccinated and also for adults to vaccinate for Covid-19 including boosters.”, Mochoboroane said.

The Ministry of Health received technical and financial assistance from WHO to organize and carry out the 2023 AVW catch-up vaccines. To help with resource planning, health facilities conducted head counts of eligible children. Following community mobilization, catch-up immunizations targeting children under five who missed their standard immunization doses and children who missed the 2022 MR shots were administered in all districts and health facilities. Many regions saw extremely high attendance as a result of the intensive advertising and social mobilization for vaccination.

The immunization efforts in Lesotho were backed by important partners and stakeholders like the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), JHPIEGO, and EGPAF.

 

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