Addis Ababa, 12 February 2019 – Ethiopia has introduced measles vaccine second dose (MCV2) vaccination into the routine immunization programme, with technical and financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organisation. Around 3.3 million children throughout the country will receive measles vaccine second dose annually.
Measles is one of the leading causes of death among children globally, particularly in developing countries. An estimated more than 100,000 measles death occurred worldwide in 2017. The disease is easily preventable with the vaccine, which has helped avert over 21 million deaths since 2000.
“Adding a second dose of measles vaccine to the national immunisation schedule will protect more Ethiopian children against this deadly disease that can only be prevented with a vaccine,” said Gavi Board Chair, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, speaking at the launch event in Wolenchity Health Center, Bosete Woreda of Oromia Region yesterday. “Giving this second dose in the second year of a child’s life is also an opportunity to provide additional health interventions making routine immunisation a preventive, cost effective, and high impact intervention that strengthens primary health care (PHC) systems. Children are less sick, can attend school and be better educated to contribute to the prosperity of their country.”
Measles is endemic in Ethiopia with outbreaks reported annually. Improved outbreak preparedness and response efforts from the Government, as well as measles supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs), have helped to significantly reduce measles cases and increase coverage with one dose to 65%. But coverage of 95% is needed to effectively prevent outbreaks.
Also speaking at the launch, Dr Chatora Rufaro, WHO Ethiopia representative, said that “the introduction of the second dose of measles vaccination in Ethiopia will significantly contribute to reduction of measles morbidity and mortality as well as the overall child mortality by preventing measles outbreaks. It also helps to attain the measles elimination goals provided that vaccination coverage in all districts reaches 95% and above for both doses of measles vaccines.”
Dr Chatora highlighted the importance of full engagement from government sectors, health and immunisation partnership to make measles elimination a possibility.
The WHO recommends that all routine immunisation programmes include two doses of measles-containing vaccines. Worldwide, coverage rates with one dose of the vaccine are stalling at 85%, whilst coverage with a second dose sits at 67%. Across Africa, these figures stand at 70% for one dose and 23% for two.