Men are still lagging behind in playing an active role in their children’s immunisation, a health official has said. Speaking at the African vaccination week commemoration at Kachikau in the Chobe District, Ms Ndibo Monyatsi from Child Health Division in the Ministry of Health observed that mindsets of both health workers and the community at large must change to accommodate the involvement of men in this regard.
“We need to understand that every parent has a role to play in their child’s upbringing therefore male involvement is necessary,” she said. She noted that even the environment needs to be accommodative and conducive for men to bring their children for vaccination without being frowned upon.
Ms Monyatsi added that they use every opportunity they get to encourage men to come forth and be comfortable with bringing their children for vaccination She emphasised that immunisation must be done at the exact prescribed time on a child to ensure effectiveness. “The goal is to ensure that no child dies from vaccine-preventable diseases,” she said.
This, she said, meant that health workers, parents and schools must all be involved to ensure that proper immunisation takes place. “Prevention is better than cure,” she noted. Ms Monyatsi also noted that they have cases of non-compliance due to religious or cultural beliefs. “Nationally, we are doing well as we are able to reach the 90 per cent set by the World Health Organisation but at district level, some are declining,” she said.
Chobe has been identified as one district whose immunisation trends are slipping down for various reasons, adding that the district has areas that are hard to reach such as camps in Lenyati/ Savuti areas. As a result, the district was chosen to host commemorations as a way of increasing awareness and demand for immunisation. A nurse from Parakarungu village, Mr Musa Malaba highlighted that non-compliance can be punishable by law and the perpetrator imprisoned.
“It is in the interest of all to ensure that all children are vaccinated especially because some diseases are easily transferable,” he said. He warned against the practice where some parents fake immunisations by writing on their children’s cards where a nurse normally would after immunisation.