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The United Republic of Tanzania commemorates World Immunization Week with a call to ensure all children are vaccinated

The WHO Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora greeting the gathering at the launch in Mlandizi, Coastal Region
The WHO Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora greeting the gathering at the launch in Mlandizi, Coastal Region

“All community members, mothers, fathers, siblings and caregivers should bring children for vaccination. This will ensure we reach every child in Tanzania. I congratulate the fathers and mothers who have brought their children for vaccination today.” This call was made by the First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete when she launched the Immunization Week.

On 23rd April 2013, Tanzania joined other countries in Africa to commemorate the 3rd African Immunization Week with a call to Save lives. Prevent Disabilities. Vaccinate! The national launch took place in the Coastal Region 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 Coastal Region, Hon. Mwantumu Mahiza; the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Seif Rashid; the Ag. Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mrs Regina Kikuli; Heads of UN agencies; Ministry of Health and Social Welfare officials; WHO staff, Kibaha District Health Team, school children, community members and members of the media.

The First Lady, 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. The First Lady especially congratulated the fathers who had brought their children for vaccination for being role models for male contribution towards ensuring the children of Tanzania live long and healthy lives. She concluded by calling onto community members to participate in the planned immunization activities and to ensure their children are vaccinated.

The Deputy Minister’s remarks echoed the achievements made on immunization coverage in the country as well as the remarkable reductions in under-five child mortality over the years. His speech also highlighted the significant contribution of the recent introduction of two new vaccines: Rotarix and PCV 13 into the routine immunization schedule in ensuring children are protected against diarrhea and pneumonia. Dr. Seif Rashid went on to announce the three best performing regions: Lindi, Singida and Tanga; and five best performing districts in the provision of immunization services which are: Chunya, Mpanda, Njombe, Ngorongoro and Mufindi. All the regions and districts were awarded certificates, the first three districts were given plaques and the five best performing districts were awarded five million shillings to support their proposals for strengthening provision of immunization services in their districts.

In her welcome address, the Regional Commissioner for Coastal Region, Hon. Mwantumu Mahiza thanked the Government for hosting the launch within the Mlandizi community surroundings contributing to awareness raising on the benefits of immunization and also providing an opportunity for community participation in ensuring children are vaccinated and protected against life-threatening diseases.

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 commemorating the 3rd African Vaccination Week. He then went on to acknowledge 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. Dr. Chatora further commended the government for recognizing the importance of immunization services and providing the immunization service for free to all children. He said, “Almost all health facilities in the country, either urban or rural are providing immunization services. This has contributed to equity and easy accessibility in the provision of immunization services in the country.” 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 for the occasion were exhibitions by the Kibaha district health team of laboratory services, family planning methods, dental and eye care services and provision of immunization services.

The United Republic of Tanzania commemorates World Immunization Week with a call to ensure all children are vaccinated [pdf: 526.66 kB]