Brunei’s immunisation coverage now stands at over 95 per cent, higher than the Global Vaccine Action Plan aim of at least 90 per cent nationally by 2020.
This has been achieved through decades of awareness raising efforts by the government towards not just the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) goals, but also improving welfare of the Brunei public.
In his World Immunisation Week address, Minister of Health YB Dato Paduka Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar, stressed that all parents and guardians in Brunei are required by law to ensure their children receive complete and comprehensive immunisation for 10 diseases including tuberculosis, measles, polio, mumps and hepatitis B.
“I urge all parents to take vaccination seriously. It is their responsibility to ensure that children receive timely immunisation as scheduled by their respective healthcare provider. The government of His Majesty has already made this all accessible,” he said.
The minister added that vaccination has been proven to save and improve quality of lives by building a person’s immunity against certain life-threatening diseases. 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.
Meanwhile, as part of the MoH’s antenatal care, pregnant women are offered tetanus and influenza vaccinations to prevent complications to mothers and their unborn babies from these diseases. Another measure actively taken by the ministry is pushing for schoolgirls in Year 7 to receive the Human Papillo Virus vaccine to prevent or reduce risk of cervical cancer.
This year’s World Immunisation Week carries the theme “Protected Together, #vaccineswork” — according to WHO statistics, immunisation prevents an estimated two to three million deaths annually.
“The administration of vaccines is a government initiated health intervention which isn’t only important, but also cost effective,” Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said, noting that Brunei has successfully eradicated polio and congenital rubella syndrome. If not diligent in keeping up good vaccination coverage and awareness, these diseases can return.