Zim earns another WHO praise Dr Alex Gasasira

Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe has launched the Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV), becoming only the third country in the world to make it part of its routine immunisation programme.

This has earned the country, high praise from the United Nations for the way it has been responding to public health issues.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) immediately lavished praise on the path the country’s health system is taking.

“WHO praises Zimbabwe as the third country in the world to introduce the Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine into the routine immunisation programme,” said WHO country representative Dr Alex Gasasira.

“I would like to congratulate and commend the Government and people of Zimbabwe for this milestone public health achievement. 

“This is yet another manifestation of Zimbabwe’s leadership in immunisation in the Africa region and globally.”

Dr Gasasira said Zimbabwe had fared well in the Covid-19 vaccination drive, even surpassing some first world countries.

“On February 18 2021, Zimbabwe was one of the first countries in the WHO African region to launch the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination.

“We are all encouraged by the progress that is being registered with an increasing number of people being reached and vaccinated against Covid-19,” he said.

“As a result of high immunisation coverage and strong disease surveillance activities, Zimbabwe last experienced an outbreak due to measles in 2010 while many countries in Africa, Europe, the Americas have experienced resurgence of measles in recent years,” said Dr Gasasira.

UNICEF Zimbabwe representative Dr Tajudeen Oyewale said: “I want to congratulate the Government of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Health and Child Care for introducing the WHO recommended typhoid conjugate vaccine into its routine immunisation programme of the country.

“Zimbabwe today joins some of the first countries in the world to introduce the TCV into its routine immunisation programme. It is the first typhoid vaccine that can be given to children as young as six months of age and confers longer term protection against the disease,” he said.

Dr Oyewale said UNICEF was an integral stakeholder in immunisation together with other development partners.

Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga launched the vaccination promotion on Friday with people getting their jabs starting today running up to June 4.

Zimbabwe has so far defied the odds with a thorough and effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

VP Chiwenga said the improvement of the country’s health sector was critical and was expected to play a midwifery role in attaining the country’s vision of an upper middle income society by 2030.

“The Government’s Vision 2030 cannot be achieved in the context of disruptive outbreaks of diseases like typhoid and cholera hence in addition to targeting these diseases for elimination, the ministry is also investing in strengthening and modernising the country’s health delivery system to reach everyone,” he said.

He said Government would provide the Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine to over six million children aged nine months to below 15 years in line with recommendations from global and local immunisation experts.

“The introduction of the typhoid vaccination is being done in line with Government’s thrust to improve the quality of life of citizens, particularly children, by protecting them from disease outbreaks using vaccines,” said VP Chiwenga.

Access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene remained the mainstay of typhoid prevention and control in the long term.

Typhoid Conjugate Vaccination would provide another important complementary tool for epidemic control hence the ministry’s decision to introduce the vaccine even during the Covid-19 times.

“What this means is that all children aged from six months to just below 15 years of age should visit the nearest vaccination point during these 10 days for vaccination and vitamin A supplementation.

“Mobile teams will also visit all schools and community outreach points throughout this period.

“Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine is being introduced into a mature routine immunisation programme which is among the best in the region and beyond.

“This therefore, should make its integration as seamless as possible with established mechanisms for reaching eligible children in every corner of the country,” said VP Chiwenga.

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