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Mochoboroane launches Africa Vaccination Week

by Lesotho Times

urges Basotho to be proactive in seeking primary health care

Moroke Sekoboto

HEALTH Minister Selibe Mochoboroane says the government is dedicated to delivering primary health care across the country to ensure a healthy and productive populace.

Primary Health Care (PHC) is the first step in the provision of health care. It entails services such as immunisation, family planning, anti-natal care, and treatment of common diseases, treatment and management of Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS counselling, amongst other services.

Mochoboroane urged Basotho to be proactive in seeking PHC to prevent contracting various diseases.  Prevention was always better than cure, he said.  It was more expensive to treat diseases than prevent them. People should thus be “proactive (in accessing PHC to prevent diseases) than being reactionary in seeking treatment after they are already ill…,”  Mr Mochoboroane said.

To demonstrate the importance of being proactive, the government had moved quickly to contain an outbreak of measles, mainly around Maseru, Butha-Buthe and Berea.  It had responded quickly  by ensuring the  vaccination of children in those areas.

Mr Mochoboroane said this while addressing a gathering in his native Thabana-Morena constituency, Mafeteng, to launch  Africa Vaccination Week which started on Monday 16 May 2023 and concludes tomorrow.

The aim of the Africa Vaccination Week is to ensure the vaccination of  children under five years across the country  to protect them from various ailments. This year’s theme for the week is dubbed ‘the big catch-up’ to denote the need to ensure that all children who haven’t been vaccinated get their doses.

Minister Mochoboroane thus encouraged parents to take children to health facilities to get vaccinated.

“The government is committed to bringing primary health care to communities countrywide to prevent diseases like polio, measles, and smallpox,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

Mr Mochoboroane pleaded with village health workers to encourage parents to ensure their children’s routine vaccinations were up to date.

“I urge parents to bring children to get vaccinated and also for adults to vaccinate for Covid-19 and get boosters  despite the UN’s announcement that Covid-19 is not a pandemic anymore,” the minister encouraged.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Lesotho, Dr Richard Banda, said the vaccination initiative had been effective in reaching populations with limited access to primary health care.

“Since its launch in 2014, African Vaccination Week has been an annual event commemorated in the last week of April in Africa. This initiative has proven particularly effective in bridging the vaccine access gap by reaching populations with limited access to regular health services,” Dr Banda said.

Dr Banda noted that vaccines were the safest method to protect children from life-threatening diseases.

“Vaccination week provides us with an opportunity to integrate child survival interventions with immunization services. It also showcases the importance of vaccines in all our lives, and how they protect us, against more than 25 vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dr Banda said.

He said the vaccination week was also an opportune time to interact and learn from  communities about their local challenges.

“For over two centuries, vaccines have safely reduced the scourge of diseases like polio, measles, and smallpox, helping children grow up healthy. I commend the government for joining the rest of Africa in marking the vaccination week,” Dr Banda said.

He  commended Lesotho for its success and resilience in overcoming several barriers to ensure PHC to many Basotho.

“….. We celebrate the gains made in the past two years for the children. In 2021 and 2022, the country managed to sustain high coverage of under-five vaccination at above 80% in seven districts, despite the impact of Covid-19,” he said.

“We call on all parents to ensure their children’s routine vaccinations are up to date. ….,” he said.

Dr Banda said the UN family remained committed to giving the government of Lesotho the necessary support required to ensure that supply chain mechanisms were responsive and integrated to ensure access to health.  The UN  would also assist with innovate needs for  primary health care to sustain the gains achieved thus far for future generations.

Dr Banda said through its commendable approaches, Mr Mochoboroane’s ministry would catch up with vaccinating thousands of children who missed out on vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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