KINGSTON — Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, is appealing to parents to ensure that their children, particularly those five years and under, are fully immunised for the new school year.
“The youngsters must be fully immunised as required by law. If you are not sure your child is fully immunised, bring him/her to the health centre, and a health worker will help you to determine what vaccine or booster, if any, your child needs. With the abolition of user fees, there is no excuse for not doing it; the service is provided free of cost,” Mr. Spencer stated on September 1, as he addressed the re-opening of the Lawrence Tavern health centre in St. Andrew.
According to the Health Minister, Jamaica's immunisation programme has improved steadily over the last 20 years, with coverage for illnesses such as measles increasing from 74 per cent in 1990 to 88 per cent in 2009. He said that only two cases of measles have been recorded since 2000.
Coverage for diarrhoea and tetanus moved from 86 per cent to 90 per cent over the period.
He said the World Health Organization (WHO) regards immunisation as one of the most effective health investments, preventing an estimated two to three million deaths annually, particularly among children under five years.
“In 2008, 1.7 million children under the age of five died from vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunisation is one of the important strategies in achieving the (United Nations) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular, MDG 4, (which aims) to reduce, by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the mortality rate among children under five. Deaths in the under five age group declined steadily worldwide, from 12.6 million in 1990, to nine million in 2007,” he disclosed.
The Type III Lawrence Tavern health centre was refurbished by the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) at a cost of approximately $8 million, with funding provided by the National Health Fund (NHF).
The project, executed under the Ministry’s islandwide Primary Health Care Renewal Programme, entailed: re-roofing, painting, tiling, repairs to cupboards, electrical works, construction of a link-way between the two buildings comprising the facility, and the installation of grills, a kitchenette, and wheel chair ramps.
The centre will serve residents living in more than 11 communities in West Rural St. Andrew, including: Lawrence Tavern, Glengoffe, Burnt Shop, Temple Hall, Mahoney, Mount Ogle, Belmont, Cavaliers, Paisley, and Essex Hall.
By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter