Immunisation is a critical aspect of child healthcare, and it is essential that every child receives all the necessary vaccinations to protect them from various diseases. Bangladesh has achieved an outstanding success rate in immunisation, with over 95% of children in both urban and rural areas receiving vaccinations. However, there are still some children who have not received any vaccinations at all, known as zero dose children. This article explores the implications and effects of having zero dose children in Bangladesh and discusses various initiatives and policies that can help reduce the number of zero dose children in the country.
The primary reason for zero dose children is poverty and a lack of awareness among parents about the importance of vaccinations. Children who are not immunised can be susceptible to a wide range of diseases, including hepatitis, tuberculosis, whooping cough, and diphtheria . This can have significant consequences on their health, life expectancy, family members, financial situation, and communities.
To address this issue, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has provided guidelines to reduce the number of zero dose children, which include identifying them, reaching out to them, vaccinating them, and keeping track of them. EPI Bangladesh can adopt these guidelines to reduce the number of zero dose children. Bangladesh must aim to reduce the number of zero dose children and ultimately achieve a 100% vaccination rate among all children.
The issue of zero-dose children must be addressed by all relevant stakeholders, including the government, NGOs, and the private sector. It is crucial to ensure that all children receive all necessary vaccinations to protect them from various diseases. The Gavi guidelines can provide a starting point for Bangladesh and the EPI to reduce the number of zero dose children. By identifying the zero dose children, reaching out to them, vaccinating them, and keeping track of them, Bangladesh can aim to achieve a 100% vaccination rate among all children.
Figure 1: The IRMMA (Identify-Reach-Monitor-Measure-Advocate) Framework, an iterative process through the Gavi grant cycle to identify, reach, monitor, measure, and advocate for zero-dose children and missed communities. (Source: GAVI)