Child vaccinations down in DR Congo: UNICEF

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 16, 2020
Adjust font size:

UNITED NATIONS, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Fewer children are getting vaccinated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the COVID-19 pandemic is almost certainly going to make matters worse, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Friday.

"If the trend continues, it could trigger a resurgence in deadly childhood diseases such as polio, chickenpox, measles, yellow fever, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and meningitis," it said.

In a statement released on Friday, the UNICEF said that a decline in vaccinations in January and February, compared to the same two months in 2019, was likely due to such established challenges as low coverage, insufficient supplies and a poor system for keeping vaccines cool whilst in storage and transit.

COVID-19 will "almost certainly worsen the situation," with parents reluctant to turn up at vaccination sessions for fear of exposing themselves and their youngsters to the novel coronavirus, and health workers lacking personal protective equipment, the agency added.

In response, the UNICEF is urging the government of the DRC to launch catch-up campaigns and intensify immunization efforts to reach all children with life-saving vaccines. It also called on international donors to step up their multi-year contributions to the effort.

"If this downward trend in immunization coverage persists, it will erase the gains made over the past two years in tackling deadly vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles," warned Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in the DRC.

On May 1, the UNICEF said that children's lives are at stake as COVID-19 restrictions hamper the delivery of vaccines that are already in short supply.

In the first two months of this year in the DRC, coverage of vaccinations against early childhood diseases -- including hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and meningitis -- went down by 8 percent to 10 percent, the UNICEF said on Friday.

Polio vaccination coverage slipped by 8.4 percent for the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and 5.4 percent for the oral vaccine for type 3 polio. Coverage of other vaccines against chickenpox, measles, pneumococcal disease and rotavirus decreased by between 4.5 percent and 1.5 percent.

Turning percentages to numbers, the UNICEF said that 86,905 children in the DRC have not received the oral polio vaccine and 74,860 did not get a dose of the tetanus-diphtheria-whooping cough-hepatitis B-Hib3 vaccine.

Some 107,010 youngsters have not been vaccinated for yellow fever and 84,676 have not been vaccinated against measles.

In a country where only 35 percent of children are fully vaccinated before their first birthday, the stakes are high, the UNICEF said, warning that the DRC risks losing its polio-free certification and that measles and yellow fever could return to epidemic levels.

Such an outcome could have a devastating impact on vulnerable children in areas affected by conflict and insecurity, or who live in remote parts of the country, it noted. Enditem

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from