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Child Killer Disease Can Be Prevented

By MONDAY SOLOMON
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INTRODUCTION

Vaccines are the most cost-effective medical intervention to prevent death and disease (World Bank, 1990). Not solely a good in itself, childhood immunization represents the gateway to provision of comprehensive health care to which all children ought to be entitled. Moreover, pediatric immunization programs have eradicated many of the infectious diseases of childhood and have been one of the most remarkable public health accomplishments in the history of medicine (Edwards, 2000). In the developed world, the implementation and large-scale application of immunization programs have been remarkably successful in eliminating or reducing the prevalence of infectious diseases.

However, diseases that are preventable through immunization still remain a major public health problem in many in Nigeria, researchers discovered that, in the developing world, more than 3 million children still die annually from measles, neonatal tetanus, and pertussis, while more than a quarter of a million children are crippled by poliomyelitis (Henderson, 1999). Indicators of the health of mothers and children continue to demonstrate poor health, and statistics on health and proper disease prevention rank among the worst in the world (UNICEF, 2000). This study intends to highlight what disease preventable diseases are.

CHILD PREVENTABLE DISEASE

A vaccine-preventable disease is an infectious disease for which an effective preventive vaccine exists. If a person acquires a vaccine-preventable disease and dies from it, the death is considered a vaccine-preventable death.

The most common and serious vaccine-preventable diseases tracked by the World Health Organization are: Diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza serotype b infection, hepatitis B, measeles, meninges, mumps, pertussis, poliomyelitis, rubella, tetanus, tuberculosis and yellow fever. The World Health Organization reports licensed vaccines being available to prevent, or contribute to the prevention and control of, 25 vaccine-preventable infections.

Protect your Baby with Immunization

Immunization is one of the best ways parents can protect their infants from 14 serious childhood diseases before age 2. Vaccinate your child according to the World Health Organization recommended immunization schedule for safe, proven disease protection.

It is important for children to be fully immunized. Diseases that can be prevented with vaccines can be very serious even deadly especially for infants and young children. Immunizations have helped to greatly improve the health of children in Nigeria.

Most parents today have never seen first hand, the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community. Although most of these diseases are not common in Nigeria, they persist around the world. It is important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines because outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can and do still occur in this country.

Protect Your Child from Serious Disease

One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases is the increase in whooping cough (pertussis) cases and outbreaks reported over the last few decades. Whooping cough can be deadly, especially for young babies who are too young to be protected by their own vaccination. Since 2010, we see few cases each year in Nigeria and up to 20 babies dying. One recent study showed that many whooping cough deaths among babies could be prevented if all babies received the first dose on time at 2 months old, when they are old enough to get vaccinated. Measles cases and outbreaks continue to occur in Nigeria. Measles spreads easily, and it can be serious, causing pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and even death. Young children are at highest risk for serious complications from measles. Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Measles is brought into a country by unvaccinated visitors who get infected when they are in other countries. Measles can spread when it reaches a community where groups of people are unvaccinated. Vaccinating your baby according to the recommended immunization schedule gives him the best protection against 14 serious childhood illnesses like measles and whooping cough before he is 2 years old. The recommended schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.

Vaccinate On Time

Even though Nigeria has experienced outbreaks of some vaccine-preventable diseases, the spread of disease usually slows or stops because most people are vaccinated or protected through immunity against the disease. If we stop vaccinating, even the few cases we have in this country could quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands cases.

Fortunately, most parents choose to vaccinate their children and immunization rates in this country are at or near record high levels. In fact, less than 1 percent of children do not receive any vaccines. However, some children have not received all of their vaccines and therefore are not fully immunized. It’s important that children receive all doses of the vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule. Not receiving all doses of a vaccine leaves a child vulnerable to catching serious diseases.

That is why it’s important to make sure that your child is up to date on his immunizations.

Paying for Immunization

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccinations, but you should check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor through the Vaccines for Children program.

These help families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to recommended childhood vaccines. This federal program provides vaccines for eligible children at no cost for the vaccine itself.

Immunization Surveillance, Assessment and Monitoring program of the WHO monitors and assesses the safety and effectiveness of programs and vaccines aimed at reducing illness and deaths from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

Vaccine preventable deaths are usually caused by failure to obtain the vaccine in a timely manner. This may be due to financial constraints or to lack of access to the vaccine.

MONDAY SOLOMON writes from University of Maiduguri, Email-[email protected]