The low immunization coverage in the NWR caused by the ongoing violent crisis puts the region at risk of a disease outbreak. This was revealed by Donatien Fuh Abangwa, district logistician incharge of the Expanded Programme on Immunization at the Bamenda health district during an interview with Maikem’s Diary on the 4th of June 2019.
Many children including pregnant women are missing out on routine vaccines that exposes them to diseases such as polio, chickenpox and measles which can be transmitted to other parts of the region through the constant movement of persons in and out of the region.
According to the center for disease control (CDC), over 11,000 babies who are born will require 16 – 20 doses of vaccine before age two. If vaccination coverage levels drop, there can be a resurgence of many of these diseases, along with suffering and death.
Donatian Fuh says many children in the region are under immunized children because parents have fled into the bushes for security reasons. “Many health centers are inactive and getting to children in the bushes is difficult so we advice parents to take their children to available health centers for vaccines. It doesn’t matter if they had missed their routine vaccines. We recently discovered worm in the stool of a baby which indicates that the child has not been to the clinic for deworming” Added Donation Fuh
On the part of Fed Fanny, chief of the infant welfare clinic at the Azure Integrated health center, some nursing mothers do not complete their baby’s vaccination calendar which ends when the baby is 5 years old. This happens due to insecurity while others intentionally neglect the calendar when the child clocks 9 months.
“Today we vaccinated a baby of 9 months but we gave a vaccine of 2 months, 2 weeks. We were worried and asked the mother what happened and she said, after vaccinating the baby at 6 months in the village, she had to run into the bush for safety. Few days back, she succeeded in getting out of the bush and decided to bring the child for vaccination”. Explained Fanny
“At times, these women do prepare to attend the vaccination days but when they get up in the morning, the environment is not condusive for them coupled with the frequent ghost towns. Vaccines do not have over dose so mothers can always come for vaccinations”. Added Fanny
So far the government, UNICEF and WHO have organized vaccination campaigns to help remedy the situation. Recently, a polio case was discovered in the North region of Cameroon which puts the inhabitants at risk.
“Vaccines are given free of charge and are always available. In those areas where accessibility is a problem, we work with community health workers. They are relay agents and connects the doctors to the community.” Says Donatien Fuh while calling on the public to make sure their children get the right vaccination.
High immunization coverage levels protect not only the individual but the entire community by reducing the spread of infectious agents to those who have not been vaccinated or those who cannot be protected by vaccines (e.g., children too young to receive all the recommended doses or children with diseases such as leukemia)
Maikem Emmanuela Manzie