At least, eight African countries missed their schedules to immunize their populations against measles due to engrossment in the fight against the coronavirus disease.
This is according to World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.
The exercise was supposed to have been carried out by 15 countries between January 2020 and April 2021. However, only seven countries completed their campaigns this year.
A report from the WHO has since captured the issue. “16.6 million Children in Africa missed planned supplemental measles vaccine doses between January 2020 and April 2021.”
This has already resulted in some outbreaks, the WHO said.
“Recent outbreaks of measles, but also yellow fever, cholera and meningitis all point to worrying gaps in immunization coverage and surveillance in Africa. As we fight COVID-19, we cannot leave anyone dangerously exposed to preventable diseases. I urge all countries to double down on essential health services, including life-saving vaccination campaigns.
“Integrated action is needed to increase and expand access to immunization as part of primary health care. This must be backed by a well-trained workforce, strong surveillance, health information systems, national leadership, management and coordination,” Moeti stated.
She encouraged engagement with communities to ensure that everyone understands “the life-saving, transformative promise of vaccines.”
The WHO and Member States will observe the 11th African Vaccination Week from April 24 to 30, 2021 – an annual campaign that unites partners in calling for universal access to life-saving vaccines and greater collective action on immunization in Africa.