The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO) will celebrate the 9th “Vaccination Week in the Americas” (VWA) this year, from 23 to 30 April 2011. The slogan this year for VWA will be “Vaccinate your family, protect your community”.
Over its tenure in the Americas, VWA has become a key initiative to underline the importance of vaccination, one which strengthens national immunization programs through the vaccination of difficult-to-reach populations in impoverished communities, border and rural areas, and in minority communities. To date, more than 323 million individuals have been vaccinated as a result of VWA activities, underlining the hard work and commitment of our Region’s health care workers. Additionally, the VWA social communication and educational campaigns, launching events, and extensive press coverage have served to highlight the importance of vaccination as a Regional public good.
Other Regions of WHO are also celebrating their own vaccination weeks; this year the European Region (EURO) will mark its sixth European Immunization Week (EIW) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO) will celebrate the second Vaccination Week in the Eastern Mediterranean (VWEM). Both the African and Western Pacific Regions are also planning to come on board with their own initiatives this year, leading us closer to achieving a Global Vaccination Week in the near future. All five initiatives are supported by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, as well as by international cooperation agencies and other agencies of the United Nations.
In Suriname, the activities within the VWA will focus on continuation of the collaboration in health with French Guyana, focusing on two activities:
1. Joint launching with the French authorities of a health promotion poster for parents and their children. The focus is on keeping safe all health documents of the child and to bring these when visiting a health facility. This poster was developed as a follow-up of the exchange activities between health workers, following the joint activities last year in St. Laurent and Albina.
2. Introduction of a practical guide to health workers, on the names of the vaccines used in Suriname and in French Guyana. It has been reported that health workers find it difficult to assess the vaccination status of a child when vaccinated at the other side of the Marowijne River. The French vaccines differ from the vaccines used in Suriname and, the French use the brand names of the vaccines in the booklets, while the health workers in Suriname use the generic name or the disease against which the vaccine is used. This activity will be evaluated and, as needed, expanded to Brazil and Guyana, as other neighboring countries.
These activities will be implemented on 28 April 2011 in the French village of Apatou (along the Marowijne river) together with French and Surinamese health authorities. Here, school children will be rewarded for their poster contest on immunization.
The authorities will then travel by boat to the Surinamese village of Langa Tabiki, along the Marowijne river, where the same activities will be repeated with Surinamese participants.
The posters and practical guides will be further distributed to the other villages, both sides of the Marowijne River.
3. Health workers of the Regional Health Services (RGD) will focus on the vaccination of children lost to follow-up. An estimated total of 950 children have lost their vaccination appointment for follow-up, in all the 8 health regions (rayons) of the RGD. The goal is to reach at least 95% of these children.
4. In select clinics in Paramaribo, health workers will also focus on the registration system of the vaccination program. It appears that the system is not practical for identifying children lost to follow-up and that the low coverage reported y these clinics might be the result of faulty registration procedures. The goal is to validate the in-clinic available reports with the reports received at BOG. The Data Quality Assessment Tool (developed by PAHO) will be used for this evaluation.
5. The Medical Mission will focus this year on estimated 340 children under 5 years old in the Brokopondo district.It is argued that the lack of transportation to the clinics keep the parents from bringing their children for vaccination. Two mobile teams will visit the children house-to-house, to catch up with their vaccination status. An estimated 580 kilometers along the road will be covered in 5 days.