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Dr. Kangbai informs MPs that over 300,000 children are in need of vaccines

During a recent parliamentary meeting with the Committee on Health and Sanitation, Dr. Desmond Kangbai, the Programme Manager at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, provided an update on the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). The meeting, which took place on Tuesday, 28th May 2024, at the Administrative Building, Parliament Building Tower Hill Freetown, was an opportunity to discuss the achievements, challenges, and issues affecting the institution's immunization and vaccination Programmes.

Dr. Desmond Kangbai highlighted the successful engagement with the Committee, where updates on the EPI Programmes were presented. He addressed concerns raised by lawmakers regarding the unclean environment at the EPI complex, attributing the issue to vaccine supplies that left packs and cold packs littering the compound. He emphasized the ministry's commitment to delivering quality services, ensuring the safety of every child, and vaccinating eligible children while expanding immunization services.

Acknowledging the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on vaccination efforts across the country, Dr. Desmond Kangbai expressed the ministry's efforts to catch up on children who may have missed vaccinations during this period. He noted that over three hundred thousand children are estimated to be in need of vaccines, and the EPI Programme administers thirteen to fifteen vaccines, including measles, BCG, tetanus, oral polio, and COVID-19, among others.

Addressing concerns about immunization uptake and resistance, Dr. Desmond Kangbai emphasized the high uptake of vaccines, with minimal resistance. He attributed occasional challenges to access and highlighted the expansion of facilities and procurement of cold chain equipment, such as solarized freezers, to ensure vaccine accessibility and affordability across the country.

In response to the notion of undesirable infant mortality despite the expansion and uptake of the vaccine Programme, Dr. Desmond Kangbai emphasized the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing diseases and lowering infant and maternal mortality rates. He highlighted the significant drop in tetanus-related deaths and the commendation received by Sierra Leone for the impact of interventions. Dr. Desmond Kangbai affirmed the ministry's commitment to saving more lives and further improving the healthcare system in Sierra Leone.

He said: “Our vaccines are very attractive and because of the vaccination campaigns we are doing in the country, that is why we are seeing a huge drop in a lot of diseases across the country. Women and children are now not dying as a result of tetanus, its not very common, so vaccines have been very effective and our interventions as Ministry has actually led to a huge reduction in infant mortality and of course,  we could say the maternal mortality rate has dropped hugely across the country and Sierra Leone is being recommended for that. We are going to keep pushing, ensuring that we save more lives and ensure that we have a better health system in Sierra Leone.”


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