The role of health workers in closing the immunization gap

World Immunization Week is celebrated on 24-30 April, and the theme this year is “Closing the immunization gap – Immunization for all throughout life”.

Dr Juliet Fleischl, WHO Representative to Lao PDR said “Health workers play the pivotal role in supporting immunization activities in the field. They administer vaccination in the health centre and also travel to surrounding villages to reach every child in the communities.”

We had the opporunity to join Ms Siphan and Ms Vanpheng from Phukut Health Centre in Xieng Khuang Province last year as they prepared to visit in Phukut village to conduct routine immunization outreach activities.

Ms Siphan getting ready to leave for Phukut village; motorbike is the usual mode of transport for most of the health workers in Lao PDR to reach the far-flung villages under their catchment areas
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
Ms Siphan and Ms Vanpheng on their motorbike along with the vaccine carrier and other injection supplies; an uphill task to travel long distances with all these items
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
They had to walk past a paddy field to get to the village; motorbike ride is only a part of their journey they traverse
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
The villagers have gathered at the village head’s house for vaccination; demonstrating the community participation in this activity
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
They were getting ready to vaccinate the children
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
Another health worker check the vaccination records to match the eligible beneficiaries for the day; record keeping is an essential part of the vaccination programme
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
Ms Siphan preparing the pentavalent (DTP-HepB-Hib) vaccine
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
A little boy below one year old is getting his vaccination today; a protection which he has a right to receive
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
Ms Vanpheng packs the remaining vaccines and checks other logistics once the session is completed; and the walk and motorbike to return to the health centre awaits them
Photo by WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

The young children from this village do not have access to the health centre, and on this day, six young children under one year received their vaccination; the work that Ms Siphan and Ms Vanpheng, and their other colleagues do is important and crucial to the development of the country as a whole.

On World Immunization Week, we need to honour the health workers who go the extra miles so as to access these hard-to-reach communities with vaccines and reduce the death and suffering from vaccine preventable diseases.

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