ZIMBABWE is drawing closer to eliminating measles through robust vaccination programmes currently in place, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official has said.
In October last year, the country experienced a resurgence in the mediaeval disease which resulted in many deaths and confirmed cases being recorded in several provinces.
Speaking at a United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Press briefing on immunisation last week, Maxwell Rupfutse, WHO technical officer responsible for immunisations, said Zimbabwe was making notable strides in eliminating diseases such as polio and measles.
“We are glad that a number of notable achievements have been made under the leadership of national governments and partners. A number of countries have eliminated measles and Zimbabwe is near eliminating it too,” Rupfutse said.
“We had a huge measles outbreak last year and vaccination response was used to control the outbreak and we are currently experiencing an outbreak of polio in the sub-region, and one of the response measures is the use of vaccination and Zimbabwe has done two rounds of vaccinations in response to the sub-region outbreak of polio,” he said.
Rupfutse commended Zimbabwe’s immunisation and vaccination initiatives.
“In routine immunisation, we talk more about the childhood immunisations but now more effort is going towards life post-vaccination by ensuring that everyone at any age has specific types of vaccines they are or can receive.
“We ensure that everyone has benefited. We have children under five (years) and we also have adolescents (currently benefiting from the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines that protect them against cancer of the cervix).
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“It is not yet widely used, but we made some strides in 2018 and 2019 but this has also been distracted by COVID-19 so we need to revitalise and resuscitate the HPV vaccination programme through our communication,” Rupfutse said.
Recommending continuous vaccinations from time to time, he added: “We at WHO are talking about new vaccines. There are about 32 diseases that can be prevented through vaccinations.
“There are quite a number of vaccines we are not utilising or under-utilising so efforts are now going towards increasing the use of the unused vaccines.”
Unicef [United Nations Children’s Fund] and WHO last week joined the rest of the continent to mark the African Vaccination Week commemorated during the last week of April.