Vaccination programme improves children’s health

The expanded programme of immunisation (EPI), which has covered up to 95 percent of the nation’s under-five children, has contributed greatly to reducing by half the infant and under-five mortality rates.

The under-five mortality dropped from 58 to 27 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2006, while the rate among new-borns decreased from 44 to 22 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Viet Nam boasts o­ne of the world’s most successful vaccination programme, said Dr Jean Mare Olive, Chief Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The country has reported no death from measles among children recently, laying a firm foundation for it to totally eradicate the disease two years ahead of world’s target.

Hepatitis B vaccine has become the seventh that is being widely used in the programme in addition to vaccines against Japanese encephalitis, cholera and typhoid.

Polio has been completely eliminated nationwide for half a decade thanks to the provision of three doses of polio vaccine to all under-one children under the EPI and two additional doses to under-five children in 32 high-risk provinces and cities which border neighbour countries and have regular changes in the population.

Viet Nam has also been able to eradicate tetanus in newborns thanks to its efforts to educate the public o­n the need of vaccination.

The EPI initiated in 1985 is designed to protect children from TB, tetanus, diphtheria, typhoid, measles, whooping cough and hepatitis.