Officials of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation say fewer and fewer women in major cities respect routine vaccination calendars.
Worried by the dwindling numbers of women in major cities who take their babies under 11 months for free, routine vaccination against 12 killer diseases, the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, EPI, on October 15, 2016, organised an awareness march in Yaounde. The walk took them from the programme’s head office opposite the Yaounde Central Hospital to the six health districts in the city.
According to the EPI Communications Officer, Joëlle Flore Mandeng, the trend has been noticed for several years now, contrary to the situation in smaller towns and rural areas where nursing mothers pay greater attention to the vaccination of their babies. In Yaounde for example, hardly up to 60 per cent of the vaccination target is attained. Routine immunisation vaccines include tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, tetanus, rotavirus diarrhoea, measles, Yellow Fever, hepatitis, pneumonia and rubella.
“Each year the State buys and distributes various vaccines to health facilities for babies under 11 months, but those in major cities and towns remain unused because nursing mothers don’t take their babies for routine vaccination. In past years, we noticed resurgence of measles epidemics because people don’t vaccinate their children enough. Ironically, women in rural areas tend to respect vaccination calendars better,” explained Joëlle Mandeng.
She attributed the situation to the tendency by women in town to complain that they are too busy. “Such nursing mothers only wait for their babies to fall sick before taking them to hospital. Often, this is too late because the babies were not immunised,” Mandeng noted. She also raised the problem of some school authorities and parents barring vaccination staff from their premises. “When vaccines are not used and they expire, scarce State resources are wasted,” the EPI Communications Officer lamented.