Factors associated with the measles immunisation coverage in the Opuwo health district, Kunene region, Namibia

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Childhood immunisation is a cost-effective public health strategy. Immunisation is one of the most important preventive health actions in children’s lives as it provides protection against most infectious diseases. In Namibia, the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) has been instituted in 1990 to ensure that the immunisation of children takes place within the prescribed age frame. However, there is still room for improving the EPI, particularly as regards measles immunisation. The problem was that in 2006, the Opuwo Health District in Kunene Region had a measles immunisation coverage of only 40% as compared to the regional coverage of 60% and the national coverage of 83%. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors associated with the low measles immunisation coverage in the Opuwo Health District with the aim of formulating improved intervention strategies in the district. Accordingly, a cross-sectional study was undertaken in certain rural villages in the Opuwo Health District. The population consisted of parents and caretakers of 120 children aged between 12 and 23 months who were interviewed using a structured, pretested questionnaire regarding the parents/caretakers’ socio-demographic and economic status, their beliefs and perceptions regarding immunisation, as well as the measles vaccination status of their children. The data analysis revealed statistical significant associations between certain socio – economic and demographic variables and the immunisation status of children. It emerged that with higher levels of education, adequate financial support, easy access to health care facilities and client friendly services, the immunisation rates of children increased. It also emerged that children from ethnic groups with a more traditional way of life, tend to be less often immunised. It was concluded that the factors associated with the lower than national immunisation levels in the Opuwo Health District, could be attributed to socio-economic, demographic and ethnic variables.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master in Public Health.
Measles immunisation