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Parents participation essential for epi immunisation programme

A Morning Tea meeting was held this week by the Health Ministry, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and WHO (World Health Organisation).

The meeting was an avenue for representatives of the Health ministry, UNICEF, WHO, and stakeholders from NGOs, the private sector and church groups to engage in sharing ideas and having discussions on how they can help improve immunisation rates.

Among the representatives was the acting Deputy Director of Health Promotions Mr Peter Kafa who spoke about the “National Immunisation Communication Strategy 2017-2020”.

He spoke briefly of the strategy development’s progress.

In this regard, Mr Kafa said that the EPI Communication Working Group has been meeting regularly since October last year.

He also said that the group involved national health promotions, national EPI team, UNICEF and WHO.

In relation, Mr Kafa said that other stakeholders such as World Vision, Red Cross and church groups were consulted and the strategy was developed using the strategic health communication approach.

He explained the strategic health communication approach is a cycle of 7 steps which are; know your issue, know your objective, know your audience, know your strategy, know your message, implement and monitor and evaluate.

Mr Kafa then explained that the objective of the overall EPI Immunisation programme is to improve Penta 3 and other vaccine coverage to more than 90 percent and to increase Measles coverage to a rate that surpasses 95 percent in all zones by 2020.

He added that the strategy’s overall aim is to increase the demand and update of immunisation services by parents and caregivers so that at least 90 percent of children are brought to the nearest areas of service delivery to receive routine vaccines.

Mr Kafa moved on to discuss behavioral and communication objective.

He said that under the former, the objective is for parents and caregivers to bring their children to the nearest health centre so that 90 percent of children in target provinces are fully immunised on time as per the routine immunisation schedule by 2020.

Moreover, Mr Kafa said that the latter aims to ensure that parents and care givers in target provinces to are aware of the importance of ensuring that all children receive immunisation at the correct time without missing any dose by 2020.

He said the other component of the communication objective is that parents and care givers in target provinces talk and encourage others to take up routine services in order to create an environment of support where immunisation becomes a priority for all children by 2020.

Mr Kafa proceeds on to discuss the structure of the strategy specifically discussing the programmes that have been completed so far and those that are still on the way.

He said that the following programmes which took place in 2016 are; compiled report from KAP survey, commencement of national development strategy and initial planning session with Malaita province team.