Did you know that some of the deadly diseases among children can be prevented, only if parents observe all the immunisation required for infants? Well, according to pediatricians, parents should oblige to the entire immunisations set by the government in different health facilities so that they protect their children from certain diseases.
Why it’s important
According to Raymond Awazi, a pediatrician at La Croix du Sud Hospital in Kigali, it’s important for all children under the age of five to be immunised early in life so that they get all the recommended vaccines at the right time.
He explains that some vaccines require multiple doses for full protection, therefore, making it important for every child to complete the full number of immunisation.
“If the child doesn’t complete the full series of immunisations in the first and in second year of life, it’s extremely important to have the child fully immunised as soon as possible,” he says.
Awazi adds that immunisation protects against several dangerous diseases. And that a child who is not immunised is more likely to become sick, permanently disabled and could possibly die.
On the other hand, Yvan Ntwari, a general practitioner in Kigali says a child should be immunised by vaccines, which are injected or administered through the mouth.
He further explains that the vaccine works by building up the child’s defence against diseses, and it only works if given before the disease strikes.
“A child who is not immunized is very likely to get measles, whooping cough and many other diseases that can kill,” he says.
However, those children who may be lucky and survive these kind of diseases, Ntwari says are most of the time weakened and may not grow well. Infact, some may be permanently disabled and may die from malnutrition and other illness.
What to be immunized against
Seth Burora,a pediatrician at Gallien Clinic in Remera says all children need to be immunised against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis with DTP vaccine among others.
He notes that diphtheria causes infection of the upper respiratory tract, of which in severe cases may lead to breathing difficulties and death.
Whereas on the other hand, he says that tetanus is capable of causing rigid muscles and painful muscles while whooping cough affects the respiratory tract as well and cause cough that lasts four to eight weeks, which according to him is very dangerous to any infant.
On the other hand, Awazi says that women and infants need to be immunized against tetanus, explaining that this is so because immunizing a woman or adolescent with at least two doses of tetanus toxoid before or during pregnancy protects the newborn for the first few weeks of life and protects the mother as well.
Adding that at six weeks old, a baby needs the first dose of tetanus toxoid (the component of the DTP9DPT) vaccine) to extend the protection received from mother against tetanus.
Another dangerous disease children should be vaccinated against, Ntwari says is measles. He notes that measles can be a major cause of malnutrition, poor mental development, and hearing and visual impairments.
“The signs of measles manifests as fever, rash together with the cough, a runny nose as well as red eyes. It’s also necessary for children to be immunised against polio,” he adds.
Here, he says a child can have signs such as floppy limp or the inability to move. Adding that for every 200 children infested, one will be disabled for life.
“Children under the age of two are more prone to develop diarrhea which is caused by rotavirus. It affects nearly every child under the age of five. Severe diarrhea can occur, especially in developing countries where accessing health care is a problem,” he says.
To avoid this, Burora says that mothers should breastfeed their children, especially during the first few days after they have given birth.
He explains that this is because the breast milk produced (colostrums) the thick yellow milk produced provides protection against diarrhoae, pneumonia and other diseases.
He notes that children under the age of six months of age should be exclusively breastfed while older children should be given plenty of liquids and foods.
Burora advices that if the child develops a high fever (normally over 38 degrees Celsius), parent should take the infant to health facility for check up to avoid any complication that might occur.
When people are crowded, diseases can spread quickly according to Awazi. Therefore, he advises that all children living in congested conditions like refugee camps should be immunised immediately especially against measles and many other diseases.