By Wallace Mawire/HARARE
The Africa region has made tremendous progress in immunization activities in all the 46 countries with the regional administrative diphtheria,petussis and tetanus (DPT3) coverage increasing from 54% in 2001 to 83% by the end of 2008 , according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This was disclosed at a recent WHO Africa regional Inter Agency Coordinating Committee (ARICC) meeting.The ARCI formerly called the Task Force on Immunization (TFI) meeting in Harare was to strengthen the delivery of immunization services in all member states in the African region.It serves as the principal advisory group to WHO/AFRO for the development of policies and strategies related to vaccines and immunization ranging from vaccine and technology research and development to delivery of immunization.
The meeting was attended by over 150 participants from WHO headquarters, all regional offices and Ministers of Health from Angola, Chad,Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, other UN agencies and international organisations and immunisation partners.
According to Wendy Julias, WHO Communications Officer nearly all the countries in Africa region have introduced new vaccines namely Hepatitis B and Haemophilus lnfluenza Type B vaccines into national immunization programmes respectively.The Africa region is also preparing to introduce pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines as well as meningitis A vaccine in the meningitis belt countries through routine immunisation programmes and campaigns.
Also measles deaths worldwide were reported to have fallen by 78% between 2000 and 2008 from an estimated 733 000 in 2000 to 164 000 in 2008.WHO says that the Africa region has significantly contributed to the decrease in measles deaths amongst children.The organisation adds that efforts are continuing to maintain and sustain the measles control successes with the regional office supporting countries to boost children’s immunity against measles with periodic campaigns.
WHO adds that all countries in Africa region, except Nigeria have managed to stop wild poliovirus transmission.However, in 2009, 16 countries in the region are said to have reported cases of imported wild poliovirus.WHO/AFRO and partners responded by supporting 18 countries with periodic follow up polio campaigns.