6.8 million children immunised against measles in Equateur and Orientale provinces (joint press release Dr Congo MoH, UNICEF, WHO, GAVI Alliance)
Kinshasa, 24 September 2013 - "To eliminate outbreaks of measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we must vaccinate all children from 6 months to 9 years of age against measles during the vaccination campaigns in both the established vaccination points and in the advanced field sites," said Dr. Felix Kabange Numbi, Minister of Public Health, at the official launch of the vaccination campaign against measles.
This campaign will run from September 24 to 28, 2013, and marks the starting point of a major intervention targeted in the provinces of Equateur and Orientale against this public health crisis and child killer. The aim of this campaign is to vaccinate 6,809,321 children aged from 6 months to 9 years in these two provinces against measles and at the same time to give two drops of polio vaccine for children under 5 years old. Similar campaigns are planned in November in the Kivu provinces and next year in all other provinces also affected by the epidemics.
Thanks to concerted efforts of vaccination campaigns, the polio virus has not been seen in the DRC since December 2011, while the measles outbreaks continue to occur. Measles mainly affects children under five years old and is a leading cause of morbidity in children. It is one of the main reasons for consultation in health centers. According to the national health sources, 70,997 measles cases have been reported since the beginning of this year, resulting in the deaths of 1,120 children.
Strengthening routine immunisation and providing supplemental campaigns like the one launched today have the potential to reduce illnesses and deaths from measles.
Dr Seth Berkley, GAVI Alliance CEO
"All children have the right to life. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that they grow up healthy, "said Barbara Bentein, Representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in the DRC. “ Controlling measles requires the commitment of all. Parents, health workers, social mobilizers, Government and development partners - each of us plays a key role in the success of this campaign. "
UNICEF, WHO, GAVI, as well as other technical and financial partners are committed to regularly support the efforts of the Congolese Government for measles elimination, through the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). According to Dr Joseph Cabore, WHO Representative in DRC; "Despite the existence of an effective vaccine for decades, measles continues to be a concern. This situation can be changed if every child was properly vaccinated either through routine immunization or during the special campaigns. Let us make the most of opportunity offered by the campaigns starting September 24, 2013."
A tailored approach
"Of all of the vaccine preventable diseases, measles is the one that spreads the easiest,” said GAVI Alliance CEO, Dr Seth Berkley. “High coverage is required to provide protection and outbreaks of measles tell us that routine vaccine coverage is not high. Strengthening routine immunisation and providing supplemental campaigns like the one launched today have the potential to reduce illnesses and deaths from measles.”
These activities are part of the GAVI Alliance’s support to the DRC. GAVI is currently working with the Government and partners to develop a “tailored approach” to help the country achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 by increasing access to vaccines and strengthening the health system.
GAVI is funded by governments [Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States], the European Commission, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as private and corporate partners [Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Comic Relief, Dutch Postcode Lottery, His Highness Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, JP Morgan, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities and Vodafone].
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