The Eritrean Ministry of Health has launched the national meningitis-A vaccination and Vitamin A supplementation campaign as the UN World Health Organization (WHO) vowed to support Eritrea’s efforts to eliminate meningitis.
The national campaign was launched in Asmara, capital of Eritrea on Friday, in which the campaign team has already been dispatched to the various regions of the country which also includes Vitamin A supplementation for children aged 6 to 59 months, WHO disclosed in a statement issued on Saturday.
Eritrea’s Minister of Health, Amina Nurhussien, said during the launching event that the Red Sea nation has been working diligently to reduce the negative impact of vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective interventions with a minimum investment which averts life-long disability and that countries should allocate national budgets for universal immunization coverage,” the statement quoted Nurhussien as saying.
According to the Eritrean health minister, Eritrea has worked with partners to control vaccine-preventable diseases and attained 95 percent national coverage.
According to the WHO, infants and children have a high requirement of Vitamin A for promoting rapid growth and for combating infections.
Following this catch-up campaign of meningitis, there will be introduction of routine immunization coverage at age 18 months for the children aged 1-5 years, it was noted.
WHO also vowed to facilitate the independent post-campaign evaluation in January next year, and document the lessons and experiences learned during the exercise.
According to the WHO, “Meningitis is a devastating disease and remains a major public health challenge,” which can be caused by many different pathogens including viruses and fungi but the highest global burden is seen with bacterial meningitis.
Together with sepsis, meningitis is estimated to cause more deaths in children under-5 years of age than malaria, according to WHO. Survivors can also suffer severe sequelae with considerable social and economic costs.
Recognizing the global importance of the problem, countries and partners issued calls for a global vision and the ambition to develop a global strategy to defeat meningitis by 2030. The “Defeating Meningitis by 2030” initiative was introduced in May last year at the World Health Assembly by Eastern Mediterranean and African Regions. Enditem