YANG BERHORMAT DATO SERI SETIA DR HAJI ZULKARNAIN
BIN HAJI HANAFI
MINISTER OF HEALTH
ON THE OCCASION OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC REGIONAL
24 - 30 APRIL 2017
THEME: "VACCINATION IS EVERYONE'S JOB. PROTECT OUR CHILDREN, PROTECT OUR COMMUNITY"
1. This year, the Ministry of Health celebrates the Western Pacific Regional Immunisation Week 2017 from 24th to 30th April 2017 with the theme 'Vaccination is everyone's job. Protect our children, protect our community'. This week aims to promote and increase awareness on the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. It is proven that vaccination saves millions of lives and is widely recognised as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Immunisation currently prevents an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year.
2. Today however, there are still 19.4 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world. Routine childhood immunisation not only offers protection and immunity against life-threatening infectious diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella, it also provides an important point of contact for health care at the beginning of life and offers every child the chance at a healthy life from the start. Brunei Darussalam has been very fortunate for the past 20 years to have maintained high annual national immunisation coverage of almost 100% for the National Childhood Immunisation Programme for children aged 0-5 years. This is in keeping with the Global Vaccine Action Plan where the aim is to achieve vaccination coverage of at least 90% nationally by 2020.
3. In adolescents and adults, getting vaccinated prevents illness, disability and death from serious diseases such as cervical cancer, pneumonia, and tetanus. Several vaccination programs have been introduced in Brunei, namely the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination program for women as an initiative for cervical cancer prevention. As part of their antenatal care, pregnant women are also routinely offered tetanus and influenza vaccinations to prevent complications to mothers and their unborn babies from these diseases. For the general population, annual influenza vaccinations are strongly recommended especially for people who are at higher risk of getting infections such as those with asthma, diabetes or heart diseases. Annual influenza vaccinations can be obtained from government health centres and in all four districts.
4. The Ministry of Health aims to increase awareness of the critical importance of vaccination and alleviate fears as well as myths associated with them. Vaccines are very safe. Vaccines, when taken, trigger an immune response similar to that produced by the natural infection, but they do not cause the disease or put the immunised person at risk of its potential complications. One is far more likely to be seriously ill if not protected with vaccination than from taking the vaccine itself.
5. Due to our high population coverage, Brunei Darussalam has been declared eliminated from detrimental diseases like Polio and Congenital Rubella Syndrome. Although these diseases have become uncommon, the infectious agents that cause them continue to circulate in other countries. In the era of travel and globalisation, these agents can easily cross geographical borders and infect anyone who is not protected. The diseases will return if vaccination programmes are stopped.
6. In line with the Ministry of Health's strategic priorities; to inculcate that health is everyone's business as well as to prevent and control non-communicable diseases, we highly value concerted efforts from all stakeholders especially parents in actively supporting our commitment in sustaining immunisation coverage as well as raising awareness and education on vaccination. In full support and agreement to this year's theme, we hope to continue our part in protecting our children and protecting our community.
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