By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU -The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently celebrated that Lesotho has successfully immunized over 20,000 children against measles and rubella.

WHO further reports that between 2021 and 2022, Lesotho sustained high coverage of under-five vaccination, above 80% in 7 out of 10 districts, despite the impacts of COVID-19.

“For over two centuries, vaccines have safely reduced the scourge of diseases like polio, measles, and smallpox, helping children to grow up healthy and happy. In Lesotho, more than 20,000 children aged 9-59 months got vaccinated against Measles Rubella during the Africa Vaccination Week (AVW).

“Since its launch in 2014, the African Vaccination Week has proven particularly effective in bridging the vaccine access gap by reaching populations with limited access to regular health services. It also provides the opportunity to integrate child survival interventions with immunization services. African Vaccination Week showcases the importance of vaccines in our lives, and how they protect us, young and old, against more than 25 vaccine-preventable diseases,” reads WHO statement in pertinent part.

WHO Country Representative, Dr Richard Banda had previously called on the government to prioritize vaccination in its national development and security agenda.

“The African Vaccination Week is an opportunity for us to catch up on the missed opportunities for unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children and to learn from our communities what the challenges are,” Dr Banda said during the launch of AVW at Thabana-Morena, Mafeteng in May.

He reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations (UN) family to render necessary support to the government, appealing to parents and stakeholders to ensure that all children’s routine vaccinations are up to date.

“The UN Family remains committed to giving the Government of Lesotho the necessary support that is required to ensure that supply chain mechanisms are responsive for the people of Lesotho. We, therefore, need to act now to catch up with the thousands of children who missed out on vaccines during the pandemic. The ambition to ensure that every child has access to essential vaccines by 2030 is within reach”.

The vaccination campaigns in Lesotho received support from stakeholders, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO), and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).

The Minister of Health, Hon Selibe Mochoboroane had promised that the government endeavors to render primary health care (PHC) across the country, a move that will see the country boasting a healthy and productive populace.

Then he said: “PHC is the first step in the provision of health care. It entails services such as immunization, family planning, antenatal care, and treatment of common diseases, treatment and management of tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS counselling, amongst other services.”

“The government is committed to bringing primary health care services to communities countrywide to prevent diseases like polio, measles, and smallpox. I urge parents to bring children to get vaccinated and also for adults to vaccinate for Covid-19 including boosters.”