Geneva, 2 December 2008 - A contribution of US$ 11 million from the GAVI Alliance has enabled the Government of Burkina Faso to initiate an immediate preventive immunisation campaign against yellow fever for 7.9 million people in high risk zones of the country.
More than 10,000 health workers and volunteers have already begun to fan out across parts of the country to administer vaccines and educate populations about the disease.
Yellow Fever is an acute, haemorrhagic fever transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Infection causes a wide spectrum of disease, from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Between 20-50 percent of those with severe infection die.
The disease can be prevented by a vaccine, which provides immunity for at least 10 years. Once infected, no treatment beyond supportive care exists.
Burkino Faso is among 33 African countries that are considered to be at extremely high risk of yellow fever outbreak. During epidemics in unvaccinated populations, fatality rates among severe cases may exceed 50 percent for adults and 70 percent for children. Even a single case is a public health concern.
"People in high risk zones must take this very seriously and participate in the vaccination campaign," said His Excellency Seydou Bouda, Minister of Health of Burkina Faso.
Vaccinating 7.9 million people requires significant technical, financial and in-kind contributions from all partners.
Dr Yada Adamou,World Health Organization
The country's preventive campaign is part of a regional Yellow Fever Initiative, financed in part by US$ 58 million of GAVI funds, which facilitates widespread vaccination programmes in countries across West Africa. To date, Mali, Senegal and Togo have run preventive vaccination campaigns.
Burkina Faso's campaign is the fourth and largest yet. The Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and local and international organisations are helping to implement the campaign.
"Vaccinating 7.9 million people requires significant technical, financial and in-kind contributions from all partners on the ground. Success relies on a coordinated team effort," said Dr Yada Adamou, WHO's African Regional Focal Point for Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response.
"Yellow fever continues to have a devastating impact on many African nations, even though a safe vaccine has existed for many years. We have to ensure that every African child is protected; it is a matter of equity," commented Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance. "GAVI is committed to working with all our partners, both globally and in the field, to ensure that the threat of yellow fever is defeated."
The country already administers the yellow fever vaccine in its routine immunisation programme for infants.