Vaccination disruption risks lives of 80m children globally

Monday, July 6th, 2020 00:00 |
A child receives oral polio vaccination. Photo/Courtesy

Mwangi Mumero

At least 80 million children under one are at risk of contracting polio, measles and diphtheria as Covid-19 disrupts routine vaccination efforts globally, warns the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF.

According to Dr Daniel Langát, the head of department of disease surveillance and response at the Ministry of Health, the counties of Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Lamu, Isiolo, Tana River, Kilifi, Mombasa and Nairobi remain high-risk areas.

Restriction of movements and channelling medical resources towards Covid-19 pandemic is hampering immunisation against diseases that affect young children.

Data from the two organisations indicate that provision of routine immunisation services is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of one.

Accordingly, since March 2020, routine childhood immunisation services have been disrupted on a global scale that may be unprecedented since the inception of expanded programmes on immunisation (EPI) in the 1970s.

More than half (53 per cent) of 129 countries reported moderate-to-severe disruptions, or a total suspension of vaccination services between March and April 2020. 

“Disruption to immunisation programmes from the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Reasons for disrupted services vary and include reluctance of parents to leave home, lack of information or fear of Covid-19 infection. Unavailability of  health workers or redeployment to Covid-19 response duties, as well as a lack of protective equipment have also impacted immunization services provision.

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