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n South African Medical Journal - Missed opportunities for immunisation in health facilities in Cape Town, South Africa : research
Background. Childhood immunisations are a cost-effective public health intervention for prevention of infectious diseases. Immunisation coverage is still suboptimal, however, which may result in disease outbreaks. Immunisation at every contact with a health facility is a strategy developed by the World Health Organization in order to improve immunisation coverage.
Objectives. To estimate the prevalence of missed opportunities for immunisation at different levels of healthcare in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, and assess factors associated with missed opportunities.
Methods. The study included a health facility-based cross-sectional exit survey of caregivers with children up to 5 years of age, followed by a qualitative exploration of staff attitudes towards immunisation.
Results. The overall prevalence of missed opportunities for immunisation was 4.6%; 81.3% of caregivers brought Road-to-Health booklets (RTHBs) to consultations; and 56.0% of health workers asked to see the RTHBs during consultations. Children attending primary level facilities were significantly more likely to have their RTHBs requested than children attending a tertiary level facility. Lack of training and resources and heavy workloads were the main challenges reported at secondary/tertiary level facilities.
Conclusion. Missed opportunities for immunisation at health facilities in Cape Town were low, probably reflecting good immunisation coverage among children accessing health facilities. Increased health worker support, particularly at secondary/tertiary levels of care, is needed to improve the use of RTHBs to provide immunisation.
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