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Strengthen Health Systems To Integrate Polio Vaccinations Into Routine Childhood Immunizations, Save The Children Report Says

Speaking at the GAVI Partners Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, David Olayemi, senior program adviser at Save the Children in Abuja, Nigeria, said fewer than half of children in Nigeria are receiving routine immunizations for diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (DTP), and the rate is dropping, Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley reports in her “Global Health Blog.” Launching a Save the Children report that “calls on GAVI to step up efforts to reach the last 20 percent of children across the developing world who are not getting routine immunization,” Olayemi said part of the reason for the lack of coverage are large efforts to vaccinate children against polio, which offer incentives to health care workers to leave clinics to go into the field, leaving no one to perform routine immunizations, the blog notes.

In addition, “[s]ome children are immunized again and again, until the families cease to believe it does any good. And they then start refusing,” according to Olayemi, Boseley writes, adding, “It may not help that they are paid according to how many children they reach.” Save the Children said immunizations for polio and all other diseases need to be incorporated into stronger health systems in addition to outreach programs, the blog notes. “The GAVI Alliance appears to think this is the way forward too — at a board meeting it agreed to get involved in the polio eradication effort, with a focus on integrating polio vaccination into the general baby vaccination program and strengthening health systems to do that,” Boseley adds (12/5).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.