UNICEF Communications Specialist, Jacqueline Namfua reports on work to help get children more children vaccinated against preventable diseases in Tanzania.
Vaccinating Children in Tanzania for Free Jacqueline: Twenty year old Nema Bengalo brings her first baby Muranaidi to the vaccination clinic for his first shots. Like all other hospitals and health clinics in Tanzania, it offers free routine immunization to all children under five. Despite being born in one of the poorest countries in the world, more than 90% of Tanzanian children like Muranaidi benefit from protection against polio, measles, diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis B. The Tanzanian governments efforts are supported by the alliance which brings together all the key partners in immunization including UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the world bank, governments, NGO’s, the vaccine manufacturers and Melinda Gates foundation. Heimo Laakkonen: Well I think the partnership and alliance is always important because governments alone are or any of the agency alone without an alliance is not strong enough to provide the support, so the poorer the better. Jacqueline: As well as improved coordination, recent support from the alliance has helped Tanzania improve its supply chain ensuring vaccines and equipments get to the health clinics on time and at the right temperature. Even the most remote communities can be reached by health workers using these motorcycles. But in spite of all these efforts, children are still getting infected with life threatening diseases that could also be easily prevented through vaccination. Dan Thomas: In this modern world, there is absolutely no excuse for not giving children in a country like this the same protection against diseases as we give children in richer countries. And the alliance is working with government of Tanzania to add the hid meningitis vaccine to its routine package of immunization for all children hopefully as early as next year. And we’re also working with the vaccine manufacturers and donor governments to provide a pneumococcal vaccine which will have the potential to literally halve the number of deaths from childhood pneumonia. Jacqueline: But introduction of new vaccines as well as long termed funding for immunization and strong health systems is key to protecting millions of children from diseases which could be prevented. In Tanzania, this is Jacqueline reporting for UNICEF television, unite for children.