Eritrea launches the Meningitis A Vaccination and Vitamin A supplementation Campaign, WHO

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Eritrea launches the Meningitis A Vaccination and Vitamin A supplementation Campaign November – December 2019

The Minister of Health, H.E. Ms. Amina Nurhussien on 15th November launched the national meningitis A vaccination and Vitamin A supplementation campaign in Asmara, where Zonal Administrators, Director Generals, UN delegates, and invited guests were present.

In her opening remarks, the Minister of Health stated that Eritrea has been working diligently to reduce the negative impact of vaccine-preventable diseases; having policies and appropriate strategies to reduce morbidities and mortalities and thereby, increasing productivity that would directly and indirectly contribute to the economic development of the country.

H.E. Mrs. Nurhussien, added that vaccination is one of the most cost-effective interventions with minimum investment which averts life-long disability and that countries should allocate national budgets for universal immunization coverage. To achieve this, Eritrea has worked with partners to control vaccine preventable diseases and attained 95% national coverage.

Speaking at the same occasion, Dr Martins Ovberedjo, WHO Representative to Eritrea congratulated the Government of the State of Eritrea and the Ministry of Health for implementing this important national public health exercise to achieve nationwide preventive immunization targeting most at risk age group which is 1-29 years old and achieved > 95% among target groups. He also highlighted that WHO’s continued commitment and support to the MoH to overcome, prevent and eliminate meningitis out of the country.

Dr Ovberedjo acknowledged the time and domestic resources that the government has committed to this campaign which include: preparatory micro planning, provision of adequate logistics and supplies, micro assessment of the cold chain system and mobilization of communities across the country. WHO is confident that Eritrea is well prepared and is on the right track to eliminate meningococcal meningitis; and to reduce the morbidity and mortality among the vulnerable population. WHO will facilitate the independent post campaign evaluation in January 2020 and document the lessons and experiences learnt during the exercise.

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. 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 a routine immunization coverage at age 18 months for the children aged 1-5 years.