Saint Lucia is working towards increasing its immunization coverage following a decline in the routine immunization of children as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation PAHO, recently held an immunization workshop aimed at building the capacity of public health nursing supervisors, community nurses and other key health professionals to increase immunization coverage in Saint Lucia.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Jenny Daniel says continuing the immunization programme is of paramount importance to the ministry as this will ensure resilience of the health sector.
“Today marks the commencement of this immunization hybrid workshop which aims to strengthen the capacity of our health care officers and workers to implement our immunization programs in a manner that is proactive, effective and dynamic. This workshop is therefore another significant strategy employed by the ministry to build resilience within the health sector and within our population in the current environment of upsurge in contagious diseases and epidemics worldwide.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George encouraged the participants to apply the knowledge gained from the workshop in providing immunization services at the various primary health care centres.
“Whatever we learn today, implementation on the ground is extremely important. So, the training might be for a few days but what is of importance is the impact. What do you do when you go back to your wellness centre and how do you make changes to improve overall vaccine programme? We have a lot of work to do so that we can get back to our close to a 100% coverage within our communities.”
Minister for Health Hon. Moses Jn Baptiste says despite the many challenges in immunization coverage, it is necessary that the nurses work hard to increase the numbers ensure a stronger health system.
“It is very important for us to sit back and see how best we can go back to basics. We are operating in a different environment; an environment with social media, presenting us with opportunities but at the same time presenting us with numerous challenges. And we went through the problems with COVID-19 and we are still going through the hesitancy problem with vaccination and COVID-19.”
The workshop focused on areas such as vaccine safety and quality, monitoring the vaccine cold chain, efficiency of the immunization programme and health facility planning, to name a few.