SOLOMON ISLANDS TACKLING IMMUNIZATION DESPITE ETHNIC STRIFE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Oct. 1, 2002 – SIBC)---Despite the ethnic conflict in Solomon Islands that has brought the country to its knees, a reproductive health program that targets the immunization of young children has managed to succeed, even in conflict-torn areas.

Raymond Mauriasi, the national immunization coordinator, said he trained health workers and volunteers from conflict areas to promote child immunization at the height of the ethnic tension. Mauriasi told PacNews agency in Fiji that he had used people from Guadalcanal, Malaita and the Western provinces to carry out their own immunization programs.

Funded by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) aims to reduce sickness and death resulting from many common illnesses. These diseases include polio, tetanus, diphtheria, measles and hepatitis B.

In Solomon Islands, under the EPI national program, children between 9 months and 5 years are vaccinated against these common diseases.

The national immunization coordinator said although the program has received good coverage, the biggest constraint is its sustainability. He said if government is able to provide funds to keep the program going, then Solomon Islands can expect a healthy and disease-free population in years to come.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

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