"Immunization is a shared responsibility!" This call was made by the First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete when she launched the Immunization Week.
On 27th April 2014, Tanzania joined other countries in Africa to commemorate the African Immunization Week 2014 under the theme, Immunization is a shared responsibility! The national launch took place in the Kilimanjaro 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 Kilimanajaro Region, Hon. Leonidas Gama; the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Kebwe Stephen Kebwe; the Director of Preventie Services, Dr. Neema Rusibamayila; the WHO Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora, Representatives of other UN agencies, NGOs and CSOs; Ministry of Health and Social Welfare officials; WHO staff, Kilimanjaro Regional and District Health Teams, 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. The First Lady especially congratulated the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for launching the introduction of second dose of Measles vaccine and Rubella vaccines into the routine immunization schedule as well as the HPV vaccine for girls of 9 to 13 years through the Demonstration Project to be implemented in all districts in Kilimanjaro Region. 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, the remarkable reductions in under-five child mortality and achievement of eradication or elimination targets realised for maternal and neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, measles and polio. His speech also highlighted the overarching goal of the African Vaccination Week in raising awareness of the importance, the need and the right of all persons to be protected
against vaccine-preventable diseases. Dr. Kebwe Stephen Kebwe went on to announce the three best performing regions: Tanga, Dodoma and Kilimanjaro; and the five best performing districts in the provision of immunization services which are: Mufindi, Handeni, Kondoa, Hai and Misungwi. All the regions and districts were awarded 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 his welcome address, the Regional Commissioner for Kilimanjaro Region, Hon. Leonidas Gama thanked the Government for hosting the launch of the African Vaccination Week and of the three vaccines within the Kilimanjaro community 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 being among the few countries in the African Region to introduce five new vaccines over a very short period of two years. He then went on to stress on the need to sustain the current immunization programme successes.
He said, “Tanzania is a big country. There still remain some children who are not vaccinated of under vaccinated posing the risk of disease outbreaks. We need to ensure all children are reached with immunization services through the Reaching Every Child Approach. Our mission is to build on past achievements and use our knowledge and experience to save 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 for the occasion were exhibitions, parade by the Kilimanjaro Regional and District Health teams, songs, dances and dramas by school children and entertainment groups with messages promoting vaccination.
For more information contact:
OFFICE OF THE WHO REPRESENTATIVE FOR TANZANIA
LUTHULI ROAD, DAR ES SALAAM
Tel: (255) 22 2116412/2113005/2111718