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Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 25, 2017 (SKNIS): The Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps, Minister with responsibility for Health, said that although the federation has made significant strides as it relates to vaccination, “there are a number of challenges that must be hurdled in order to improve our international record”, as vaccines help the immune system fight more than 20 dangerous diseases.
Such challenges include strong health systems; access to vaccines in all places at all times; community involvement; and better access to immunization services for marginalized and displaced populations such as migrants, refugees and indigent groups.
“Regardless of these difficulties, it is imperative that every effort is made to close the immunization gaps in order to achieve healthcare for all, as enshrined in both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the successor Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Minister Phipps, while addressing the nation in observance of the 15th Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) and the 6th World Immunization Week on Monday, April 24. “As such, here in St. Kitts and Nevis, we must continue to do our part to encourage parents and guardians to vaccinate their infants and school-aged children; ensure that there is adequate governmental support to finance our national immunization programme; and protect our citizens before they travel abroad to areas where certain diseases are prevalent.”
Minister Phipps added that the government must and will continue to protect the borders by ensuring that minimum vaccination standards are maintained by travelers seeking to access the federation’s ports of entry.
“These efforts must work in tandem with our personal practice of ensuring that our environment and neighbourhoods are safeguarded against vector-carrying organisms and insects, our water supply remains safe, and our food security is given the highest priority,” she said.
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), VWA is an extraordinary effort led by the countries and territories of the Americas to advance equity and access to vaccination. VWA activities strengthen the national immunization programmes by reaching out to populations with little access to regular health services, such as those populations living in urban fringes, rural and border areas and in indigenous communities. Since its inception in 2003, more than 640 million individuals of all ages have been vaccinated under the framework of VWA. Vaccination Week in the Americas also provides a highly visible platform to raise population awareness regarding the importance of immunization and to keep vaccines on the forefront of political agendas.