Kathmandu, December 17
Family Welfare Division under the Department of Health Services is set to launch its measles-rubella mass immunisation campaign in two phases. The first phase of the immunisation campaign will kick off on February 13 in Provinces 1, 2 and 5.
The second phase will take place in Province 3, Gandaki, Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces from March 14.
FWD expects to immunise 30 lakh children aged between nine months and five years old in its two phased mass immunisation campaign. It said coverage for immunisation would be increased to reduce number of death and disability in children and meet WHO-2023 goal of eliminating measles from the country.
The division said proper co-ordination between officials and local governments was necessary to increase vaccination coverage in children.
It has also requested parents to make sure that their children got full dose of vaccines.
The government has been running 16,000 immunisation centres across the country. “We are extending centres this year as the mass immunisation campaign includes children between nine months and five years of age. Children who missed the second dose of vaccines will also be included in the campaign,” said Bharat Bhandari, immunisation officer at Family Welfare Division.
According to Nepal Demographic Health Survey, percentage of children aged 12 to 23 months old, who received all basic vaccines fell to 78 per cent in 2016 from 87 per cent in 2011.
“Though the first dose of vaccine coverage of measles-rubella is wide, there was less coverage for the second dose of vaccine. It is because people are not aware about the second dose and lack complete knowledge of full dose,” said Bhandari.
Health practitioners have demanded that vaccine supervisors, vaccine officials and cold chain officials be well managed to meet the goal of the immunisation campaign.
The government provides two doses of measles vaccines for children — at nine months and 15 months — from health facilities across the country. Immunisation is the most cost-effective and efficient way to control and eliminate the vaccine-preventable diseases that contribute to childhood illness and death, said Bhandari.
According to World Health Organisation, measles is particularly dangerous for the poor as it attacks malnourished children and those with reduced immunity.
Measles can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infection and pneumonia while rubella causes irreversible birth defects.
A version of this article appears in print on December 18, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.