Jamaica has moved closer to achieving universal immunization, having achieved over 90 per cent coverage in Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) and BCG (against tuberculosis) vaccination last year. Minister of Health, Hon Rudyard Spencer, said it was an “outstanding achievement” given the environment of declining budgets, during his presentation in the 2010/11 Sectoral Debate in Parliament, Tuesday (September 21).
He noted that Jamaica had maintained relatively high vaccination coverage for many years since 1985. However, there was some slippage for over a decade, with coverage averaging at 83 per cent up to 2008, with the exception of MMR which languished in the high 70s.
While celebrating the country’s achievement, Mr. Spencer said there needed to be a transition from child to family immunization, arguing that the porosity of Jamaica’s borders and the rise in global travel has increased the vulnerability of both children and adults to preventable diseases.
Mr. Spencer also reported to the House the launch of the Child Health and Development Passport in August. Developed in collaboration with the Early Childhood Commission and funded by the World Bank, the Passport is a comprehensive take home record of a child’s health and development, from birth to 17 years. It is applicable to children born on or after September 1, 2010 and should be used at each visit to a health facility and throughout the school system.
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