Child immunisation a high-priority: WHO

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Papua New Guinea is the sixth-placed high-priority country needing urgent improvement in child immunisation, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO country representative Dr Pieter Van Maaren, during a presentation of two vehicles to the Health Department, highlighted that one out of 13 infants in PNG died before the age of five from common childhood or preventative illnesses.
He said that in an effort to help address the problem, the two vehicles were given to the department to support an expanded programme on immunisation (EPI).
The special integrated routine EPI strengthened programme (Sirep) has been introduced across the country and will continue until PNG  achieved at least 95 per cent coverage of all vaccines.
Health Secretary Pascoe Kase thanked WHO for its continued support and technical assistance.
He said that Sirep had reached out to most  provinces since its introduction and implementation into the national immunisation programme last year.
“We now have immunisation services offered in all 89 districts through 745 health facilities, but could reach only 60 per cent of immunisation-aged children,” Kase said.
He said that the vehicles were going to help increase support for supervision and monitoring and supply of vaccines and logistics.
Under Sirep, PNG introduced two new vaccines – measles – rubella (MR) and inactivated polio (IPV) on Aug 12 last year but it will need support from stakeholders to ensure a successful implementation of the programme throughout the area.

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