Guyana is set to achieve 100 per cent vaccination coverage via the Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI). Several regions, more specifically those of the hinterland, have embraced the EPI, contributing to the over 90 percent coverage rate.
This was revealed at the opening today, of the Quarterly Review Meeting for Maternal and Child Health/ Expanded Programme on Immunisation. The two-day meeting is being held at the Grand Coastal hotel, East Coast Demerara, and is for the various stakeholders to identify the successes and challenges of 2016 and make recommendations for going forward.
From Left- Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, UNICEF’s Country Representative, Sylvie Fouet and PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. William Adu- Krow
Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence in her feature address said that their records reveal that Guyana currently provides immunisation for 17 antigens for the under-five population, as well as special groups such as HIV positive patients, children in orphanages, health care workers and travellers.
Minister Lawrence said that the importance of data cannot be underestimated when designing any system or plan. She noted that in EPI, numbers need to be known especially when targeting the regions of Guyana.
“According to our records, in the Health Situation Analysis of the Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS) 2016-2020, it was noted that since 2010, Guyana has recorded high levels of immunisation coverage for which we are extremely happy. It means therefore that we must always remain one step ahead, that our procurement process for supply of vaccines is efficient, and that we are prepared to effectively deal with any threat or outbreak,” the Minister said.
Additionally, the Health Minister said that the Ministry and the relevant stakeholders must ensure that the necessary vaccines can easily reach the hinterland regions, so that the monitoring process is well established, and that there is ongoing training of personnel for new vaccines and for effective vaccine management.
Minister Lawrence said that it is of interest to note that the Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) Strategic Plan, 2014-2019, lists nine impact goals, most of which relate to the components of the Maternal and Child Health Department. The Minister pointed out that it will be important, in the two- day review that all stakeholders critically examine the progress that has been made. She noted that challenges are still present and that, “we must formulate a comprehensive action plan that will be used to overcome the challenges and produce the desirable outcomes.”
With regards to the Maternal and Child Health Department, Minister Lawrence recognises that it is an area that needs constant surveillance. “It is imperative for our facilities to be improved and up to standard. We must have adequate trained personnel in all our Regions so that we lessen the complaints about unprofessional behavior and attitudes as we improve the level of patient care. We must implement standards and best practices for our Clinics and Health Centre,” the Health Minister told the stakeholders present at the meeting.
Minister Lawrence pointed out that her Ministry’s mandate is to reduce the incidences of maternal and child mortality. She underscored the importance of human resource training, so that they in turn can inform and teach the mothers who attend clinic sessions, and who can in turn approach childbirth with more confidence and understanding.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud said that more focus needs to be placed on Yellow Fever vaccination, noting that significant numbers of cases have been recorded in some South American countries.
Dr. Persaud pointed out that in examining the records; the hinterland regions surprised the Ministry this year. He noted that Region Nine and some of the other hinterland regions have really started to demonstrate that they can do the job of providing full immunisation coverage.
Dr. Persaud noted that Region Ten needs special mention as they “have done pretty well and congratulations to Region Four once again for challenging Region Six who has been for many years at the helm of coverage.”
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Country Representative, Sylvie Fouet commended the progress that the country and the Ministry of Public Health have already made. She noted that UNICEF will continue to work with Guyana to ensure that immunisation remains a priority.
Fouet said that all stakeholders must work together to ensure that they tackle the challenges that are present when it comes to maternal mortality.
Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Representative Dr. William Adu-Krow said that (PAHO/WHO) is already and willing to assist the country in any fight against any health issue.