Campaign to prevent child deaths

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Health will embark on a campaign aimed at promoting immunisation in an attempt to curb child deaths.

"The department introduces new measures to prevent child deaths... aimed at promoting the National Immunisation Week and raise public awareness around the importance of immunisation," the department said on Sunday.

The annual event, scheduled to run between 1 to 9 August, will coincide with the commencement of the national roll-out of the Rotarix Vaccine, which is used in the prevention of diarrhoea among young children.

The Rotarix is one of the two vaccines that were launched in the Eastern Cape in September 2008, the other being Pneumococcal Conjugate, which is used for the prevention of diseases that are caused by streptococcus pneumoniae.

The Pneumococcal Conjugate was rolled-out in April 2009 as part of the department's Expanded Programme on Immunisation.

According to the department the Rotavirus infection is known to cause diarrhoea among children below the age of five years and can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and death.

"This problem is particularly common in under-developed and developing countries as infected children may not reach a hospital in time and are thus likely to succumb to the disease," said the department.

The department noted that the introduction of the two vaccines, which are free of charge in public health facilities, are expected to significantly reduce child illnesses and deaths in the country and assist towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals particularly those relating to infant and child mortality.

The department urged parents, care-givers, educators among others to take full advantage of these vaccines and help reverse preventable deaths among children and infants.

Members of the public are also welcome to visit their health facility to gain more information on these vaccines.