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170,000 Gambians to be vaccinated against swine flu

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  • 170,000 Gambians to be vaccinated against swine flu

    170,000 Gambians to be vaccinated against swine flu
    23 July, 2010 03:40:00 HARUNA KUYATEH

    Not less than 170,000 people in The Gambia would be vaccinated against the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, also known as the swine flu, which affects the human respiratory system.

    This was disclosed by Mr. Lamin Camara, the focal person of the Ministry of Health on H1N1 at a sensitization programme held for members of the North Bank Technical Advisory Committee, ward and women councillor and district chiefs in Kerewan.

    According to Mr. Camara, the campaign which would last five days between 26th July and 30th July 2010 would be held in public places to give everyone the opportunity to have easy access to the services. He therefore called for the cooperation of all stakeholders to ensure that the target groups within any given settlement are reached on time.

    He said that as part of efforts to contribute to health care delivery in the country, all health staff would be vaccinated against H1N1 virus, with the objective of ensuring that no health staff is infected and by extension would create an avenue whereby the public would be attended to by health workers at all times.

    He also emphasised the need for people to be vigilant and be supportive during the campaign. He said the strategy calls for multi-sectoral approach to help in the fight against H1N1 and expressed that the sensitization aims to inform and enlighten stakeholders to assist in the dissemination of information and to ensure that the target groups (notably pregnant mothers, asthma, diabetes and hypertension patients, and children between 10 and 11 years) are reached.

    He further used the occasion to inform stakeholders on the symptoms of H1N1 which include fever, cough or sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, as well as in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. He said complications of the disease include pneumonia and difficulty in breathing while death may occur in persons who have other medical problems or complications.

    ?All these can happen if people do not adopt better health seeking behaviour like regular washing of hands with soaps and water; keeping a distance of at least one meter from infected person; washing your hands immediately after coming in contact with an infected person or object; refraining from handshaking, kissing or hugging a sick person during an outbreak; and covering your mouth and nose with a piece of clean cloth when around an infected person.

    He also noted that people already infected with H1N1 should ensure that they minimize the risks of other people contracting the disease. He said the best way out is to immediately seek medical attention from certified practitioners. He then assured the public that there is cure for swine flu and they should not give in to panic.

    Delivering his opening address at the programme, the deputy governor of the North Bank Region, Mr. Abu Njie stressed the importance of such gathering, noting that it would contribute greatly towards improving the health status of all. While assuring all health officials in the region of the government?s fullest support and collaboration towards the successful campaign against H1N1, he urged the participants to ensure that all the target groups are reached within the period.

    According to the NB regional health director, Mr. Muhammed Saho, the sensitization exercise would empower the stakeholders to be aware of the signs and symptoms of H1N1. He also expressed the need for the people to be observant of the pandemic and report all suspected cases to the nearest health facilities for further investigation and support.

    For his part, Mr. Yero Bah, manager at the Health Education Unit at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in an interview with TODAY underscored the importance of the campaign, noting that it helps to protect target groups from the H1N1 influenza and contributes to the government overall target of enhancing and promoting better health care for all.

    Commenting on how the virus spreads, Bah said the influenza viruses are mainly spread from one person to another through coughing or sneezing. A person may also become infected by touching surfaces or holding objects contaminated by influenza viruses (e.g. hands, door handles handkerchiefs, tissue paper) and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. According to him, there is no cause for alarm as no cases are yet reported or seen in the country.

    Mr. Bah then used the opportunity to commend the World Health Organisation and UNICEF for their invaluable support to the health sectors to carry out nationwide sensitization, aimed at raising the public?s knowledge profile on the need to take proactive roles in supporting the health workers in their quest to prevent the spread of the virus.
    Twitter: @RonanKelly13
    The views expressed are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer or any other person or organization.

  • #2
    Re: 170,000 Gambians to be vaccinated against swine flu

    H1N1 pandemic vaccination campaign begins

    Africa ? Gambia
    Tuesday, July 27, 2010
    The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday started its nationwide vaccination campaign of Influenza A (H1N1) which is expected to last till 30th of July.

    The pandemic (H1N1) that was discovered in 2009 is a new influenza that never circulated among human beings before but after its outbreak in Mexico, North America, people have virtually no immunity to it. The week-long campaign is expected to cover a total of 170, 000 people across the country with priorities given to medical health workers, pregnant women, children from 10-11 years and people with chronic diseases and diabetics.

    Speaking at a press briefing organised by the WHO last Friday at its head office in Kotu, ahead of the campaign, Dr. Thomas Sukwa, the WHO country representative, said that the new influenza A (H1N1) is a viral infection that affects mainly the nose, the throat, the bronchi and occasionally, the lungs. According to him, the virus is transmitted easily from person to another by exposure to infected droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing that is inhaled, or that can contaminate hands or surfaces. He stated that vaccination is the principal measure for preventing influenza and reducing the impact of epidemics.

    Dilating on the consequences of pandemic, Dr Sukwa noted that it does not only stop at health but by extension to the livelihood of the people, governance and security, and economic systems, among others. The WHO boss also informed journalists that the incubation period of the virus is estimated from 1-7 days, adding that the signs of the new influenza are fever, cough, sore throat, body ache, headache, chills and fatigue.

    He recommended covering one's nose and mouth with tissue when coughing and sneezing, washing hands with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing, avoiding close contact with an infected person, and visiting the nearest health facility among others as the preventive measures to the virus.

    On the diagnosis and treatment, Dr Sukwa explained that the confirmation is by Laboratory H1N1 virus, noting that currently WHO identifies the Institute Pasteur in Dakar as a reference laboratory for West Africa. He further adduced that Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) antiviral drug can cure the disease with stocks available globally including The Gambia.

    Situation in WHO Africa Region
    According to the WHO country representative, cumulative cases as of 31st May 2010 have indicated that a total of 18, 598 laboratories confirmed cases have been registered in 35 countries of which he added, a total of 168 deaths were recorded in 9 countries.

    In West Africa, he revealed that Algeria is having 916 cases; Cape Verde, 118 cases; Ivory Coast, 30 cases; Ghana, 720 cases; Guinea Conakry, 3 cases; Mali, 40 cases; Mauritania, 15 cases; Niger, 49 cases; Nigeria, 11 cases; and Senegal, 325 cases.

    Gambia government's response
    He commended the government of The Gambia for their resolve to strengthening measures in order to prevent the virulent strain of influenza A (H1N1) from coming to The Gambia.

    Operation of the campaign
    According to the WHO boss, it is anticipated that there will be over 206 vaccination teams countrywide. He pointed out that the teams would be moving form village to village, and from health facility to health facility, so as to cover the whole targeted population. He finally expressed WHO resolve to support the government of The Gambia in prevention and control of Influenza A (H1N1).

    Author: by Alieu Ceesay
    Twitter: @RonanKelly13
    The views expressed are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer or any other person or organization.