The Minister of Basic Education, Dr. Fatou Lamin Faye, on Sunday inaugurated the newly installed Solarised Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Vaccine Cold Room in Bansang, Central River Region (CRR).
Speaking at the event, Dr. Faye said globally immunisation prevents 2 to 3 million deaths every year, from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles, in all age groups, noting that, it is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions.
She added that The Gambia’s EPI programme provides over ten different antigens to its target population through static (base) and outreach strategies based on the National Immunisation Schedule.
“The vaccines are given free to targeted children in both public and private health facilities. The government has declared free RCH services in The Gambia and this has resulted in high utilisation of health services especially immunisation.”
She added that immunisation does not only protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases but also serves as an opportunity to deliver other cost-effective and sustainable life-saving measures, such as vitamin A supplementation to prevent malnutrition, insecticide-treated nets for protection against malaria and deworming medicines for intestinal worms.
Health Minister Omar Sey said EPI has been achieving all the global targets on routine immunisation for the past two decades. In 2013, he added, The Gambia Government spent about D9 million on vaccines and D24 million in 2016. “Effective vaccine management calls for adequate storage capacity with the required storage temperatures so as to deliver immunisation services with potent vaccines,” he said, adding that the Bansang facility has the capacity to store all the vaccine requirements of both CRR and URR.
Sara Bevsolow Nyanti, the UNICEF Country Representative said in 2007,
a comprehensive review of the EPI programme revealed that there was inadequate vaccine storage capacity for large quantities of vaccines at regional level, leading to the construction of the artificial storage facility in the region.
Medical Equipment to Kuntaur Health Centre
In another development, the Basic Education Minister presented medical equipment to Kuntaur Health Centre in CRR. The equipment were couches, beds, bed sheets, pillows, baby weighing skill, ultrasonic nebulizer, microscope, cuttings, infusions, oxygen machines, noodles and syringes amongst others things.
by Arfang MS Camara & Alieu Ceesay on Tour