KINGSTON — Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, says islandwide coverage under Jamaica’s immunization programme has been steadily increasing, particularly over the last 20 years.
Mr. Spencer said that coverage for illnesses such as measles has increased from 74 per cent in 1990 to 88 per cent in 2009, adding that since 2000 there have only been two recorded cases of measles.
The Minister, who was speaking at the re-opening of the Lawrence Tavern health centre, St. Andrew on Thursday (September 1), also pointed out that, during the period, immunization coverage for diarrhoea and tetanus moved from 86 per cent to 90 per cent.
He pointed out that the World Health Organization (WHO) regards immunization as one of the most effective health investments, averting an estimated two to three million deaths annually, particularly among children under five years old.
“Immunization is one of the important strategies in achieving the 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,” the minister said, noting that deaths in the under five age group have declined steadily, worldwide, from 12.6 million in 1990 to nine million in 2007.
He urged parents, particularly of children five years and under, to ensure they are fully immunized prior to returning to, or commencing school next week.
“If you are not sure your child is fully immunized, 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,” he said.
He asked parents to help the country maintain its superb record of islandwide coverage, by taking their children to the health centres to be immunized.
“With the abolition of user fees, there is no excuse for not doing it; the service is provided free of cost,” Mr. Spencer highlighted.
The Lawrence Tavern health centre, a Type III facility, 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 centre serves residents in more than 11 communities, including Lawrence Tavern, Glengoffe, Burnt Shop, Temple Hall, Mahoney, Mount Ogle, Belmont, Cavaliers, Paisley, and Essex Hall.
By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter