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Health News of Monday, 31 March 2014

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Rotavirus Diarrhoea: Cameroon’s First Lady Leads Vaccination Crew


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Chantal Biya officially launched and introduced the vaccine into the National Vaccination Programme on March 28, 2014.

Excitement gripped thousands of women, children and health officials on March 28, 2014, at the Yaounde Multipurpose Sport Complex, when the First Lady of Cameroon, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Education and Social Inclusion, Mrs Chantal Biya, made an exultant entrance into the building at exactly midday to officially launch and introduce the rotavirus vaccine into the National Immunization Programme of the country.

It was a special moment for all Cameroonians present at the event, particularly to the over 1,000 school pupils and students who hailed the special attention the First Lady keeps showing towards their wellbeing, especially as the vaccine will protect them from rotavirus, which is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea amongst infants and young children in Cameroon and beyond.

To kick-start the free administration of the vaccine to babies between zero to 11 months, an ever beaming Chantal Biya headed a vaccination team towards 10 women who represented the 10 regions of the country who had come at the event ground to have their babies vaccinated. Maman Chantal, as she is fondly called, in her usual motherly nature warmly touched the babies, smiled back at mothers as she dropped the rotavirus vaccine into the mouths of the children.

This symbolic act from Cameroon’s First Lady according to Helen Evans, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of GAVI Alliance which is one of the financial partners funding the vaccination programme in the country, is a strong message to all Cameroonian parents that the vaccine is available and free. According to Helen Evans, it is exciting that the First Lady is giving such a strong message to all parents so as to protect their children from rotavirus diarrhoea.

In this light, the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda, took to the rostrum to laud the success of vaccination campaigns in the country which has actually reduced infant mortality.

He however reiterated that in spite of progressive actions registered in the over 10 different routine vaccination campaigns carried out in the country, the epidemiology situation is still disturbing. As such, André Mama Fouda urged parents to bring their children for vaccination, respect their vaccination calendar and never to close their doors to vaccination teams saying each vaccine is an opportunity given to each child individually or collectively to reinforce his/her immunity system.

The Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) in Cameroon, Najat Rochdi, to expressed gratitude to Mrs Biya for accepting to be the matron of the occasion, a title the First Lady did not hesitate to accept when Najat Rochdi met her during an earlier event.

Najat Rochdi explained the importance of the vaccine which when properly administered is going to prevent 180,000 deaths of children in Cameroon per year. The UNDP Senior Staff said three of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are related to health and vaccine and when vaccinated, it is an important component to reduce mortality amongst children between 0-5 years.

Speaking on behalf of bilateral partners, the Ambassador of France to Cameroon, Christine Robichon, lauded Cameroon’s efforts and good results registered in money given for vaccination programmes in the country. Since 2001, Cameroon has benefitted some 151 million US dollars for its vaccination programmes and for the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine into its vaccination programme, Gavi Alliance donated some seven million US dollars, all in a bid to accelerate the fourth MDG goal in the country.

Besides the many speeches delivered during the event, presentations of local artists such as X-Maleya, Linda Raymonde, Ottou Marcellin and the La voix du cenacle choir electrified the audience as there was a huge display of joy from the children present. Kéguégué International also added some comic into the event.

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