…lauds Guyana’s immunisation successWhile underscoring the importance of immunisation which helps to protect people from various diseases, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence lauded the successes made thus far in ensuring that Guyanese of all ages are covered under the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), but not without mentioning the challenges the country also faces.Minister Lawrence was at the time delivering remarks at the opening of the Maternal Child Health (MCH) – Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Quarterly Review Meeting which was held at the Pegasus on Monday. The forum focused on maternal and child mortality, as well as immunisation.In recognition of the benefits of immunisation, there has been need to extend immunisation coverage worldwide, especially in low income countries which have the highest maternal mortality rates.Attendees of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Quarterly Review Meeting which was held at the Pegasus on Monday.Minister Lawrence noted that Guyana has registered great success with support from various stakeholders but there will always be a need for improvement and further expansion.She observed that with the constant bordering traffic and increasing outbreak of diseases such as measles and yellow fever, there is an urgent need for more active monitoring and surveillance of what is happening.While significant strides have been made on the coast, access to remote areas of the country remains a hindrance to the process, the Minister reported.“I wish to state that the potential and sustainability of our country are strongly linked to a healthy nation. I want to reiterate that monitoring and appropriate management of our health systems are intrinsic to us making substantial progress,” she told the participants.Equal accessGuyana is among the countries that have benefited significantly from the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) initiative in procuring vaccines for children. Currently, 17 vaccines exist in the Public Health Ministry’s vaccination schedule to which every child has equal access.Minister Lawrence said that the campaign is reaching many girls with a strong focus on young adolescents, particularly in the hinterland. “We are not trying to stop our girls from having children in the future, but stopping them from having cancer,” she explained.In announcing that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines will be given to boys and girls now, the Minister said that it is hoped that more people could become advocates and speak to people in churches, mosques, temples and clubs, educating them on the work regarding immunisation.Guyana was successful with its immunisation programme over the decades. This has come about with the strategies used to combat preventable diseases particularly in children.According to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Guyana’s EPI was initiated during the late 1970s with vaccinations against 6 diseases namely: measles, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, diphtheria and tuberculosis. The last case of yellow fever was in 1968, and measles in 1991.At the end of 2017, the programme now offers additional antigens against the following diseases: yellow fever, Hepatitis B, mumps, heamophilus influenza, rubella, rotavirus and pneumococcal, meningococcal and Human Papilloma Virus. This programme has expanded from a child immunisation programme to a family immunisation programme.PAHO in collaboration with the Ministry has been making efforts to strengthen surveillance and conduct vaccination mop-up activities in the bordering and outlying communities.