Tanzania launches the introduction of two new vaccines: Rotarix and PCV 13 with a call to ensure all children are vaccinated

On 6th December, 2012, Tanzania historically became the second country, in sub-Saharan Africa to launch the introduction of two new vaccines simultaneously in the routine immunization schedule. The national launch took place in Dar es Salaam and was officiated by the First Lady of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mama Salma Kikwete. Others also present to witness the launch were the Regional Commissioner for Dar es Salaam, Hon. Said Meck Saddick; the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Hon. Dr. Hussein Mwinyi; the Chairman of the GAVI Alliance, Mr. Dagfinn Hoybraten; Ambassadors for Italy, Germany and USA; Heads of UN agencies; Ministry officials; Representatives of NGOs; WHO staff, health care workers for Buguruni Health Centre, community members and the media.

In his welcome address, the Regional Commissioner for Dar es Salaam Hon. Said Meck Saddick thanked the Government for hosting the launch within the Buguruni community surroundings contributing to raising awareness on the new vaccines and also providing an opportunity for community participation in ensuring children are vaccinated and protected against diarrhea and pneumonia.

Messages from the GAVI Alliance Chairperson, Ambassadors for Italy, USA and Germany echoed the achievements made on immunization coverage in the country as well as the remarkable reductions in under-five child mortality over the years. In the remarks, the government was commended for its decision to embark on being part of the solution to save lives by the introducing the two new vaccines. The speeches also highlighted the significant contributions from the international organizations and respective countries in addressing the funding gap in the battle against childhood diseases. The government was repeatedly assured of continued collaboration and support in making sure the level of achievements in the area of immunization is increased and well maintained.

The First Lady of the United Republic of Tanzania, Her Excellency, Mama Salma Kikwete, in her speech reiterated the benefits of the vaccines in saving lives of many children citing the significant drop in childhood morbidity and mortality due to vaccine preventable deaths over the years. She further stressed on the need to sustain the current immunization programme successes and intensify efforts in strengthening immunization services. She concluded by thanking the development partners and all stakeholders within the health sector for their unfailing support in ensuring the children of Tanzania live long and healthy lives!

Dr. Rufaro Chatora, WR Tanzania delivered his message on behalf of the UN Agencies in Tanzania. He began by congratulating the Government of Tanzania for making a high level decision and commitment towards reduction of preventable childhood illnesses and deaths. He further acknowledged the profound benefits of vaccines citing the example of achievement of eradication or elimination targets realised for maternal and neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, measles and polio. However, more efforts were called for to ensure all unvaccinated and under vaccinated children are reached to curb the sporadic Measles outbreaks witnessed from time to time. Dr. Chatora further highlighted the importance of building on past achievements and existing platforms in rising to the elevated challenge of saving more lives. His remarks further called for joint action among leaders, development partners and community members to ensure realization of the child’s fundamental right to be immunized and protected from debilitation and death from vaccine-preventable diseases. Dr. Chatora concluded by assuring UN agencies’ continued support towards implementation of immunization services in the country.

Other activities conducted during the occasion were role plays, traditional dances, live band music and immunization services.

Tanzania launches the introduction of two new vaccines: Rotarix and PCV 13 with a call to ensure all children are vaccinated [pdf: 565.13 kB]