By Fatoumatta K Jallow
The2019 campaign against Meningitis A with Vitamin A supplementation and deworming, has commenced nationwide on Saturday February 3rd 2019. The campaign is meant to protect children against Meningitis, vitamin A deficiency and worm infestation.
According to authorities, vaccination teams will visit every community in the country; that they will be stationed at strategic locations such has Bantabas, markets places, health centres, crossing points, community centres, and Schools, to ensure that no child aged between 1 to 7 years old, is missed; that
the vaccine is free of charge and that no one should pay to have their child vaccinated.
Saharu Kanteh, Communications Officer of the Expanded Program on Immunization (E.P.I), said the vaccination campaign targets the ages of 1 to 7 years; vitamin A supplementation targets ages between 6 to 59 months and deworming targets ages between 12 to 59 months.
Kanteh said the history of meningitis outbreaks were in November 2000 and March 2001, and 1996 and 1997; that some people died in recent outbreaks of the disease in 2012 which infected 175 people, leading to 9 deaths.
He said the Ministry of Health conducted a mass meningitis immunization campaign in 2013, targeting people between the ages of 11 and 29 years; that this new campaign will target children aged between 1 to 7 years; that the reason for this is because the target group did not receive the vaccine during the 2013 campaign. Kanteh called on political, traditional, community and religious leaders, community-based organisations and community volunteers as well as parents and caregivers, to play a role in ensuring the success of the campaign.
“All stakeholders should ensure that no child in their Constituencies is left behind. They should support the sensitization and mobilisation efforts and encourage community members to vaccinate their children,’’ he concludes.
Sandra Lattouf of UNICEF said the importance of the campaign cannot be over emphasized; that the campaign is to prevent children from infectious diseases; that the service is free and therefore urged parents to seize the opportunity to ensure that their children are vaccinated or receive vitamin A supplement and are dewormed. She applauded the commitment of the Ministry of Health and the community for their participation during the vaccination exercise. She called on stakeholders and communities to voluntarily come out and vaccinate their children.
The team is led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, UNICEF and World Health Organisation (WHO) with support from the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI).