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Bangladesh prepares for its largest public health campaign: 33.5 million children vaccinated against measles in three weeks

DHAKA / GENEVA, 17th February 2006: Bangladesh is getting ready to mount the biggest Measles vaccination campaign in the world from 25th February-16th March 2006. An estimated 33.5 million children aged between 9 months and under 10 years will be vaccinated during the 20 day period.

This is the largest public health mobilization effort in the history of Bangladesh and involves approximately 50,000 skilled vaccinators and 750,000 volunteers covering 62 districts and 5 city corporations. The vaccinations will be administered using more than 100,000 schools and 150,000 other immunization sites. 

“Few things yield greater benefits for the health, well being and survival of children than immunisation. If ever Bangladesh needed a truly all-out effort to fight measles – which is a leading cause of death and disability among children – it is now,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative, Louis-Georges Arsenault.

This campaign follows Phase I which was conducted in September last year in two districts of Bangladesh which targeted 1.5 million children. During that three week period nearly 1.4 million children were vaccinated which constituted 93% of the target groups. Key lessons learned from that initiative have been used to design and improve Phase-II of the campaign.

Measles is the fifth leading cause of death among children under five years of age in Bangladesh. Annually, an estimated 20,000 children die from measles. Almost 70 per cent of children under one year of age are reached through routine measles vaccination.  However, measles vaccine is only 85% efficacious when given at 9 months of age, leaving approximately 40% of children in each birth cohort susceptible to measles. This campaign is organized by the Government of Bangladesh to provide a second opportunity for these susceptible children.

To cover all the 33.5 million children, 40 million doses of measles vaccines, 40 million auto disabled syringes, 4 million reconstitution syringes and 200,000 safety boxes have been procured and distributed. Additionally, 455 cold boxes, 18,000 vaccine carriers, 70,000 ice packs have been procured and 400 freezers have been installed at district and sub-districts throughout the country.   

The campaign also involves a huge communication and social mobilization drive, including mass media, distribution of communication materials, support by renowned national personalities, and door-to-door interpersonal communication initiatives targeting parents and caretakers.

WHO, UNICEF, American Red Cross, United Nations Fund, CDC, and the Government of Japan are major partners in supporting the Government of Bangladesh in the Measles Catch Up Campaign.

For further information, please contact:

Kirsty McIvor, UNICEF Bangladesh, +8802 933 5807 or +880173 043478, kmcivor@unicef.org

Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Geneva, (41) 022 909 5716, dpersonnaz@unicef.org

 

 

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