By OGIA MIAMEL
Vitamin A supplementation (VAS) is one of the cost effective, well-tested and proven measures to prevent child mortality and reduce morbidity in a developing country like Papua New Guinea, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Country representative Olushola Ismail said in 2011 the World Health Organisation (WHO) provided a strong recommendation for the delivery of vitamin A supplementation as a lifesaving, preventative intervention to reduce child mortality and morbidity.
Vitamin A supplementation strengthens the immune system and makes children less vulnerable to infection.
For children ages six months to five years receiving VAS twice yearly helps protect them from measles and diarrhoea and could reduce the severity of diarrhoea and pneumonia.
According to Unicef: “Fully Integrated Delivery of Vitamin A supplementation and deworming with EPI in Papua New Guinea is an opportunity to reduce child mortality and morbidity.
“Papua New Guinea has made great progress in reducing under-five mortality (U5M) rate from 1990 to 2013.
“From 89.1 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 61.4 in 2013 and the infant mortality rate (IMR) from 82 per 1000 live births in 19990 to 47.3 in 2013.
“Despite these progresses, the under-5 morbidity rate continues to be high with one in 17 children dying before the age of five from a common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.”
Unicef strongly supported World Health Organisation ’s recommendation that delivery of twice-yearly of vitamin A supplement to children aged six months to five in Papua New Guinea has the potential to further reduce all-cause mortality in children by 24 per cent.
The report suggested Papua New Guinea use its existing immunisation system to improve its vitamin A supplementation coverage.
Vitamin A supplementation plays an important role in vision and bone growth and helps protect the body from infections.
Vitamin A also promotes the health and growth of cells and tissues in the body, particularly those in the hair, nails, and skin.
It plays a critical role in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.
By OGIA MIAMEL