Medi snips | Sunday Observer

Medi snips

30 August, 2020

Children who missed vaccinations should be immunised immediately-Epid Unit

Consultant Epidemiologist, Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health, Dr Deepa Gamage has urged parents whose children missed getting vaccinated due to the Covid-19 outbreak to do so immediately.

“The huge impact on health due to the Covid-19 pandemic is global, and all countries have taken measures to contain the transmission and reduce the impact of the outbreak on health-care services”, she told the Sunday Observer. “Temporary interruption of essential basic health-care delivery services such as routine immunisation services has affected most countries.

This may lead to secondary health crises such as outbreaks due to measles, poliomyelitis, rubella, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, Japanese encephalitis as main vaccine preventable diseases, along with the on going Covid-19 outbreak in the world. Multiple communicable disease outbreaks can result in amplifying the economic damage of the existing epidemic and unexpectedly exacerbate morbidity and mortality due to communicable diseases that could be prevented through vaccination”, she said.

She said, Sri Lanka achieved a very low under 5 child mortality rate due to effective public health interventions, by focusing on preventing vaccine preventable diseases. To this end, the Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health as the main implementation authority for the National Immunization Program took priority measures in the resumption of National Immunization Program after temporary suspension of vaccination clinics at the initial stage of the Covid-19 transmission, from mid-March to mid-April 2020.

Guidelines have been given to all field level public health staff of the Regional Epidemiologists and Medical Officers of Health (MOH) on precautionary measures to mitigate Covid-19 transmission, on resumption and continuation of field level immunisation clinics.”, she said. She warned that most vaccine preventable diseases which existed even during the pre vaccine era, cause long term morbidity and mortality. “If any child contracted such diseases, it could lead to a great deal of complications including death. Timely visits to MOH, midwife or the closest vaccination clinic to get the vaccine can prevent this danger”, she said.

She said that one vaccine was targeted to prevent only one disease and would not give protection to another disease. “It is important to get all recommended vaccines for adequate protection from vaccine preventable communicable diseases,” she emphasised.

On the benefits of vaccination, she said the vaccine components helped to develop protective level immunity. This immunity will remain for a long term in the body providing protection for such diseases. “If any patient suffering from vaccine preventable diseases such as polio, measles or tetanus, closely associated with a vaccinated person, who has developed adequate immunity, the vaccinated person will not get the disease as he /she is protected from the vaccination. “,she said.

Asked to comment on the quality of the vaccines, she said “Sri Lanka gets down only standard assured quality vaccines to the National Immunisation Program, with standards certified as “World Health Organization pre-qualified” vaccines. All vaccines are specially stored in a specialised vaccine storage refrigerator called “Ice Lined Refrigerator” at the MOH office,to maintain the required cold chain, and ensure their efficacy and potency when given to children”, she said.

“We have now taken measures to re-start and continue the National Immunisation Program. All parents are advised to vaccinate their children, if they have missed any doses . Public health care staff has been advised to maintain precautionary measures during this pandemic period to prevent Covid-19 transmission.

All should adhere to frequent hand washing practices and maintaining social distancing and minimizing crowding in clinics. The midwife will provide such advice and will provide appointments to visit clinics during her home visits for other public health services.”, she said.

Stroke a major cause of disability and death -NSLA

The National Stroke Association of Sri Lanka which completes two decades of service to stroke victims in the nation next year- 2021, will bring Stroke back to the centre stage at its 19th annual general meeting today.

Dr Harsha Gunasekara former vice president NSLA told the Sunday Observer that stroke was a major cause of disability and death and the commonest cause of permanent disability worldwide. He said the NSASL brings together both medical and non-medical persons interested in improving stroke care in Sri Lanka. It was launched in January 2001 by a team of specialist doctors and professionals lead by Dr Jagath Wijesekera, Consultant Neurologist and Founder President, with the objective of reducing the burden of stroke and improving the quality of stroke care in Sri Lanka.

“Over the two decades of its existence the NSASL carried out numerous projects, of which winning the Gold Award of the World Stroke Organization for its activities organised for the celebration of World Stroke Day in 2009 is remarkable. Organising the Asia Pacific Stroke Conference in September 2011 was another exciting experience. The NSASL has made major contributions to the medical profession and the public. A National Stroke Day (last Sunday of February every year) was declared by NSASL in 2001 even before the World Stroke Day was declared by World Stroke Organization.”, he said.

Major role

He said the NSASL plays a major role in increasing knowledge and awareness of stroke among the public in Sri Lanka with the aim of preventing stroke. “This has been achieved through stroke walks and free health camps for stroke screening organised in Colombo and other districts annually, press conferences, meetings at places of work and schools, programs on electronic media and articles on print media. Patient information leaflets to educate the public and patients on awareness and prevention of stroke and a book on Stroke Care for care givers have been published in all three languages by the Association for distribution.

The Association also conducts regular programs and workshops to train doctors and nurses involved in both emergency stroke care and stroke rehabilitation and also to train care givers of stroke victims,” he said.