The Minister for Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, has called on paediatricians not to relax on vaccination despite tremendous success Rwanda has recorded over the recent years.
Dr Binagwaho said this while opening a two-day paediatric conference in Kigali, on Thursday.
The minister said although vaccination has helped Rwanda achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on maternal and child health, there is no room for complacence if the gains made are to be consolidated.
The symposium, under the theme, ‘Stop vaccine preventable diseases, vaccinate your child,’ seeks to create awareness about the importance of vaccination and the availability of new vaccines, according to Dr Lisine Tuyisenge, the general secretary of Rwanda Paediatric Association.
Tuyisenge said most of the diseases that kill infants can be prevented by vaccination, adding that it was the reason the conference targeted people that work closely with infants such as paediatricians, hospital representatives and parents.
Rwanda is one of the few African countries that have achieved up to 95 MDG immunisation coverage for children under five and pregnant mothers against the eleven killer but preventable diseases.
According to the World Health Organisation, despite the two to three million deaths that occur among infants, 18.7 million infants worldwide are still missing out on vaccination and immunisation which is a cause of preventable deaths.
Dr Maurice Gatera, the in-charge of vaccine medicine at Rwanda Paediatric Association, commended the government for the efforts put in achieving the 95 per cent coverage.
He said the vaccination has led to eradication of diseases such as polio in Rwanda with the last case reported in Rusizi District in 1993.
According to WHO, 78 per cent drop in the infant mortality rate has prevented 38 million deaths.
The routine immunisation has reduced cases of preventable diseases from 800,000 to 200,000 in the country over the last two years, the symposium heard.
Gatera cited misinformation, especially among practitioners supposed to administer vaccinations, tendency of vaccines to overwhelm the immune system and vaccine resistance in some individuals among the challenges.