Vaccines are found to be the greatest advances in public health and development globally. It is proven to be the most effective way to prevent diseases, such as diphtheria, measles, polio, pneumonia, yellow fever, tetanus, among others. It is effective in helping to keep children grow up happy and healthy.
Despite these numerous benefits, there still exist a gap in immunization. In Liberia, one in ten children die before their fifth birthday due to preventable diseases. Also, Malaria remains one of the major killers of children under five.
In 2022, SOS Children’s Villages International in Liberia with support from SOS Children’s Villages International in UK and partners strengthened its vaccination programme in Liberia to increase children’s access to vaccines for healthy living. The vaccination program was launched to reach at least 10,000 children annually.
2-month-old Leela* is one of the 7,308 children that received routine immunization at the SOS Medical Center last year. With a level one Travel Health Notice for measles issued in Liberia by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year, Saybah, a first time mother believes that disease does not have a border so she took a step further by ensuring that Leela was vaccinated.
“Vaccination is important for children because it protects them from diseases and keeps them healthy and happy,” says Saybah, Leela’s mom. Saybah thrives to keep her daughter safe. She encourages parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated.
SOS Children’s Villages International in Liberia have made substantial progress in healthcare delivery since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in 2014. The organization is fully contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, including goal 4: good health and well-being.
“We remain fully committed to the fight against malaria and other killer diseases. Due to COVID-19 in the past, many parents were not bringing their children for treatment and routine immunization, but now this has changed,” remarked Gracious, a Vaccinator at SOS Children’s Villages International supported Medical Centre in Liberia.
She noted that initially many parents were not bringing their children for treatment because of lack of money and the fear of COVID-19, but in recent times the number has increased. “In less than two months, we have vaccinated over 600 this year,” she narrated.
Gracious said that the vaccine is vital for 0 to 5-year-olds.
“Athough statistics show that there is slight reduction in the death rate of children under 5 by two-thirds in Liberia, achieving one component of the Sustainable Development Goals, still more needs to be done,” said Dr. Lamine Cisse, Medical Doctor and Manager at the SOS Children’s Villages International supported Medical Centre.
He further encouraged the government and partners, such as SOS Children’s Villages International UK to continue to invest in vaccination, malaria prevention, and control programmes to reduce infant mortality and the death of children in Liberia.
Written by Joseph Joboe, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia, Communication & Brand Coordinator.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.