Vaccinations are one of the major breakthroughs of modern medicine, leading to a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality from a variety of preventable diseases. The World Health Organization has initiated a program called Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) in 1974 intended for increasing awareness and vaccination coverage worldwide. Nepal has joined this initiative in 1979, and since then the government of Nepal provides free immunization services to all its citizens, regardless of socioeconomic status and geographic distribution. The national immunization program is a priority program of the Child Health Division and is believed to be one of the most successful public health interventions in Nepal.
In 1989, the program provided immunization services for six vaccine-preventable diseases, which were oral Polio vaccine, DPT vaccine, Tetanus toxoid, Bacille Calmette–Guérin (BCG) for tuberculosis and measles vaccine. Between 2000 and 2015, the program introduced six new vaccines: hepatitis B vaccine, Haemophilus influenza B vaccine, Rubella vaccine, Japanese encephalitis vaccine, injectable Polio vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine. In 2015, the program provided immunization for 11 vaccine-preventable diseases:
BCG vaccine - given once at birth.
DTP-HepB-HIB vaccine - given three times at ages 6, 10 and 14 weeks.
Oral polio - given three times at ages 6, 10 and 14 weeks.
Injectable polio vaccine - given once at 14 weeks.
Measles and Rubella vaccine - given twice at ages 9 and 15 months.
Pneumococcal vaccine - given three times at ages 6 and 10 weeks, 9 months.
Japanese encephalitis vaccine - given once at 12 months.
Tetanus toxoid vaccine is administered to pregnant women.
Recent studies have shown that there is a significant and continuous increase in immunization coverage in Nepal, especially in rural and distant areas, and in poor populations. This increase can be attributed to the government’s efforts to mobilize immunity by sending medical staff with vaccines to distant areas through mobile clinics.
The latest achievements include:
1. Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination since 2005
2. Polio-free since 2014
The EPI program is a great success, with immunization coverage in Nepal estimates at 90%, according to recent estimations of the WHO at 2016. It is of the highest importance to continue this national effort from both the government and you, the parents. Maintaining your children immunization program will, first of all, keep them healthy, and eventually lead to disease eradication as demonstrated worldwide.
Children vaccination = disease eradication!
1. Increased immunization coverage addresses the equity gap in Nepal - http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/95/4/16-178327/en/
2. Nepal – WHO and UNICEF estimates of immunization coverage 2016
3. Child Health Division, Nepal