Public health nurses have been urged to continue spreading the message of the importance of immunisation.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anton Best issued this plea today, as he addressed a half-day workshop on immunisation, at the Horatio Cooke Auditorium of the National Union of Public Workers’ Headquarters, Dalkeith Road. It was planned as part of the celebrations of Vaccination Week of the Americas.

Dr. Best said: “I appeal to you today, to spread this critical message of the importance of immunisation, throughout every district, health clinic or institution and school in Barbados, remembering the slogans for Immunisation Week 2009, Vaccination: A Family Affair and Immunisation begins with Health-Care Workers: Get vaccinated.

Noting that immunisation had significantly improved the global health picture, the senior health official said: “In fact, given what we know about the critical role childhood development plays in adult health and prosperity, it is no wonder that immunisation is now recognised as a human right and constitutes one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”

He acknowledged that immunisation had always been a major focus of the Health Ministry and that the goals of Barbados’ Expanded Programme on Immunisation from its inception were to ensure that 80 percent of all children were immunised before their first birthday. It was also essential to reduce morbidity and mortality from vaccine preventable diseases.

“To date, Barbados’ immunisation programme has been extremely successful. There have been no reported cases of polio since the 1960’s and no reported cases of Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, Childhood TB or Meningitis, since 1994,” said Dr. Best.

He concluded: “Immunisation is the cornerstone of the fight against infectious diseases in early childhood. It is a crucial requirement for the health of every Barbadian child.”

The objectives of the workshop were to reinforce key principles of good public health immunisation practices and launch a survey to measure the immunisation coverage of children in Barbados over time, geographical areas and population groups.

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