The latest report shows that the coverage of the fully vaccinated children who had taken the doses as per schedule before celebrating their first birth day was 81 percent in 2013.
Though the rate is still much lower than the government’s target of 90 percent by 2016, the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) that oversees child immunisation finds it to be “a success”.
The coverage has been consistently increasing by one percentage point for the last six years, EPI officials say.
“It’s difficult to push it up after a time. But we have launched special programmes for the low-performing districts,” EPI assistant director Tajul Islam A. Bari told bdnews24.com.
Health Minister Mohammed Nasim awarded the best performing districts and divisions at the launching of the EPI Coverage Evaluation Survey 2013 on Tuesday.
The report, however, finds 93 percent children received the required doses within the first 23 months without following EPI schedule, a trend that EPI does not consider as “valid coverage”.
The EPI recommends all of their five vaccines against nine diseases must be given within one year of age at specific intervals.
The government started the EPI in 1979 against infectious diseases – tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, and measles - to reduce child deaths caused by diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.
In recent years, vaccines against Hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and rubella had been added to the routine system.
The government had earlier said it would begin pneumonia vaccination by December this year and switch to injectable polio vaccines from the oral form in Jan next year.
Bangladesh is much appreciated for its high vaccine coverage in routine immunisation.
It received two ‘GAVI best performance award’ within the past six years.
Studies are on to find ways of further increasing the coverage by making use of mobile phones.
The coverage is, however, low among children living in remote rural districts and some urban pockets.
In 2013, the Rajshahi division had been found to be the best performing division with 85.2 percent of coverage, and Barisal division lowest performing one with a coverage rate of 77.5 percent.