Guyana’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) has matured from the initial tight focus on children when it began some 40 years ago to targeting whole communities now.

When it began in the 1970s, Guyana’s EPI focused on measles, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, diphtheria and tuberculosis (TB). So successful has been the programme that the last Guyanese patient afflicted with yellow fever (YF) was since 1968.

A local measles patient was last treated here in 1991, said Dr Paul Edwards, of the Guyana office of PAHO/WHO. Dr Edwards, who spoke at Wednesday’s launch of Vaccination Week in the Americas, held at High Dam in Mahaica/Berbice (Region Five), said Guyana’s last polio patient was treated way back in 1962.

Meanwhile, Mahaica/Berbice achieved 95 percent vaccination coverage last year as a “very health-conscious Region,” Deputy Regional Executive Officer (DREO), Mr. Sherwin Wellington told the audience.

Wellington assured that the Region is “fully behind” the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) EPI strategy and encouraged residents to “take full opportunity of free vaccination”.

The success of Guyana’s EPI initiative rests on the fact that Public Health officials “know what works,” said Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton, Director of Primary Health Care (Programme 3) which oversees the flourishing vaccination and immunisation drive.

“What we kick out of the door, stays out of the door,” Dr. Hamilton said referring to the diseases the EPI initiative has helped keep out of the country’s borders enabling all children in late pre-independence Guyana “to look forward to adulthood”.

The ongoing Vaccination Week in the Americas, is being observed under the theme ‘Protect Your Community. Do Your Part. Get Vax’.


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