Gambia hailed for achievements in child immunization

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

At a recent Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) Breakfast meeting held on the sideline of the 68th session of WHO Regional Committee in Dakar, Senegal, officials have commended the government and People of The Gambia for the achievements registered in the area of childhood immunization.  As immunization is a key element of the Primary Health Care Strategy adopted in 1983, the EPI services in The Gambia are provided at base and village level (outreach) by a dedicated team of multidisciplinary health professionals.

This approach to the delivery of EPI services has contributed greatly to the high immunization coverage registered in The Gambia over the years. Using the PHC system, services are provided at the community level where people do not travel long distances to seek for services. Importantly, EPI services are integrated in routine Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health Services.

Recently, in an effort to improve coverage of birth doses of certain antigens EPI birth doses are administered before discharge following delivery in hospitals. Importantly, through Public-Private Partnership, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare also provide Immunization facilities in private health facilities with the aim to improve coverage across the country. The Cold chain system in The Gambia is totally dependent on solar for refrigeration. This is not only cost-effective but sustainable using culturally relevant approaches such as women and influential leaders.

The Minster of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Isatou Touray extended gratitude to GAVI for supporting the EPI programme in health facilities and communities and assured GAVI of government commitment to maintaining the high immunization coverage which is compared to none in the Africa Region.

“I would like to thank the health workers in both government and the private sector, regional government structures, district authorities, community structures, communities and families for supporting the EPI activities in the country. It is time for us to do more to increase and maintain the already immunization coverage in The Gambia. Together we can sustain the gains registered on immunization to protect the health of the population”

Author: Modou Njai is the Director Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.