By TRN Online, Kathmandu, Apr. 7: With support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO, UNICEF and other partners, the Government of Nepal today launched a new vaccine campaign introducing Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) into the routine immunisation programme across the country.
The three-week campaign, which will run from 8th April to 1st May 2022, aims to reach all children between 15 months and 15 years to quickly achieve wider protection from typhoid, increase the impact of the vaccine introduction and combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance, according to a press release issued by the UNICEF.
Over 50,000 vaccination sites have been established across rural and urban settings in the country, including schools. Immediately following the campaign, TCV will be introduced into the routine immunisation schedule and will be regularly administered to children at 15 months of age.
“Congratulations to the Government of Nepal on this milestone; the introduction of the TCV will ensure the lives of thousands of children are protected across the country for years to come, as well as helping to combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance. This is also a great opportunity to leverage this introduction to identify and reach those children being missed by other life-saving vaccines and essential health services,” the UNICEF press release quoted Anuradha Gupta, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as saying.
Nepal is a typhoid-endemic country and is estimated to have one of the highest burdens of typhoid in the world. The nationwide introduction means children in the country under the age of 15 years will now be able to access the vaccine free of charge.
“Vaccines are among the best investments we can make to give every child a healthy start in life,” said Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative to Nepal.
“The introduction of the Typhoid-Conjugate Vaccine into Nepal’s national immunization programme will save the lives of thousands of Nepali children and is critical to tackle the high burden of typhoid in children in the country. This expansion and further strengthening of routine vaccination services in Nepal is particularly timely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, given the widespread impact it has had on regular health services.”
The TCV campaign will also strengthen and promote routine immunisation in Nepal by identifying children aged 15 to 23 months that have missed other routine vaccines, and make sure they are able to access these vaccines and become fully immunised and protected.
Based on lessons learned during the successful Measles Rubella Campaign in 2020, the TCV campaign will also be used to identify zero-dose children - children who haven’t received a single dose of the basic diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis-containing vaccines (DTP) vaccine. Zero-dose children face multiple deprivations and are markers of acute inequities, read the press release.
Children out of school will be identified through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and caregivers will be educated and informed about where to go for routine immunisation through the support of local leadership and health workers. Good hygiene behaviour will also be promoted throughout the campaign to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“The Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine is highly efficacious and its introduction in Nepal will significantly reduce the burden of typhoid disease among children in the country,“ said WHO Representative to Nepal, Dr Rajesh Sambhajirao Pandav. “Additionally, typhoid vaccination can slow the expansion of drug-resistant strains which is an emerging global health issue. Along with vaccination campaigns, Nepal must also strengthen surveillance for antimicrobial resistance, and work on improvement of sanitation and access to safe drinking water."
Nepal is the fourth country supported by Gavi to introduce TCV into its routine immunisation programme. Pakistan, Liberia and Zimbabwe have all introduced the vaccine, with support from Gavi and partners including UNICEF.
In addition to typhoid vaccination programmes, other efforts to control the disease, including health education, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) improvements, and training of health professionals in diagnosis and treatment should be encouraged and implemented in countries.
The Global Burden of Disease study estimated that in 2019, there were at least 82,449 typhoid cases and 919 typhoid deaths in Nepal.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 888 million children – and prevented more than 15 million future deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 lower-income countries.