Health workers save lives. Immunizations save lives.
Under the umbrella of World Immunization Week, starting on 21 April 2012, WHO is organizing a week of vaccination campaigns, public education and information sharing. The week focuses on saving lives by protecting people against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Immunization is one of the most successful and effective health interventions, which has reduced morbidity and mortality worldwide. Who are among the first that come to mind when you hear immunizations? For us, it’s stating the obvious – health workers. Health workers save lives. Communities rely on health workers to provide health services – immunizations, caring for the elderly and maternal and child health services, while also meeting everyday essential health needs. In rural settings, community health workers play an important role in increasing ac¬cess to health care and services. Successful interventions by community health workers have led to improvements in maternal and child health, including reductions in mortality and morbidity from common childhood illnesses.
Availability of health workers can be a major constraining factor on vaccination coverage in developing countries. A higher presence of health workers usually increases the availability of vaccination services making it more likely that populations will be vaccinated.
At the same time, emphasis needs to be placed on improving immunization rates among health workers themselves to help ensure patient safety and protection. Immunization also provides personal protection for health workers and minimizes workforce absenteeism.
On the occasion of World Immunization Week, the Global Health Workforce Alliance urges its members and partners to advocate for a supported health care workforce armed with the knowledge and skills to successfully implement change and save lives.