April 28th, 2017, Addis Ababa: The 7th African Vaccination Week has been officially launched in Ethiopia, in Fitche town-North Shoa Zone of Oromia region on April 24, 2017. The launching was very colorful attended by partners including GAVI, WHO, UNICEF, Core Group, PATH, CHAI, JSI/UI-FHS, Save the Children, CCRDA as well as by the national and local medias. Moreover, Dr. Sabrina CLEMENT, a representative from GAVI Geneva head quarter took part in this important event. The community including mothers who dressed up colorful traditional dress welcomed higher officials and distinguished guest warmly through traditional music. Ethiopia commemorate the 2017 AVW with the theme “Vaccine protects everyone, Get Vaccinated”
The Oromia Regional health bureau head, Dr. Dereje Dughuma in his welcoming speech urged that parents, health workers, partners, communities and other stakeholders to work together to ensure unvaccinated children are vaccinated. He also requested partners and donors to continue their support to fill the gap on the supply needed for the health facilities in their region.
On behalf of Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health, Dr. Girma Assefa, Advisor to the state minister of health made a keynote address and launched the national African Vaccination Week. Dr. Girma Assefa said that “The Ministry of Health will continue working hard to ensure that children are vaccinated and hence protected from any illnesses that may also lead them to lifetime disabilities or even death.” He also urged the need to strengthen the key roles played by health development armies, health extension workers, the existing various structures and political leaders in strengthening the service and demand creation; the need to strengthen data quality and cold chain at all level as well as the supervision to improving the immunization program.
On behalf of Dr. Akpaka Kalu, WHO Representative to Ethiopia, Dr. Thomas Karengera made an opening remark. Dr Thomas said that “African Vaccination Week is a good opportunity to increase awareness on benefits of immunization, identify unvaccinated children and act accordingly. It also helps to address the immunization gaps and move the country forward towards achieving universal immunization through multi-stakeholder partnerships.” Dr. Thomas added that “Everyone has a role including parents, health workers, religious and community leaders, government officials and more to increase access and availability of immunization services for communities.”
A vaccination session was held in Fitche one health center where the launching event took place to be continued during the AVW to vaccinate unvaccinated children identified from each woreda and district of the region. Children from Fitche zone presented a song in their local /Oromifa/ language to transmit message on the benefit of vaccination.
Moreover, a panel discussion has been held in the afternoon session where presentations on immunization performance from federal and regional level as well as a research paper on “Reasons for Defaulting from Immunization Program among 6-11 Months Old Children” was presented and discussed.
The commemoration was also warmed up with the local Selale Band traditional music, elders blessing, poems and dialogues by children and immunization message was communicated through all activities. The participants were also enjoyed with the traditional coffee ceremony held and as part of this ceremony the higher officials were also invited to cut the traditional bread (Diffo Dabo).