Mass Immunization Campaign against Measles in DPR Korea
by Dr.Majeed Ezatullah
UNICEF-with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Government- is conducting an emergency measles immunization campaign targeting over 16 million of the country's 22 million people.
The campaign is in response to a recent measles outbreak affecting over 3,500 people, most of them children,including two infants and two adults who died and more than 1,000 people hospitalized.
The mass immunization campaign against measles that launched on 15 March was planned to conduct in two phases. During the first phase, from March 15 to 18, six million children aged 6 months to 15 years were vaccinated.The second phase, planned to start on April 10, will aim to reach additional 10.2 million people aged 16 to 45.
''In February 2007 through local radio broadcasting I got to know signs of a disease called measles,'' says Mrs.Han Pil Nyo, mother of 6 months girl ''We were requested to report all cases of skin rash with fever to our household doctor in the earliest time.''
She was terrified to wake up one morning and find her 6 months old daughter, Kim Il Gyong, with fever and all of her body covered with spots.Having known the signs of measles, she immediately took her baby to section doctor who told her to bring baby girl to the Hygienic Anti Epidemic Station as she was developing lung problems and coughing. The doctors here transferred her to the South Hamgyong Provincial Pediatric Hospital.
''My daughter had meanwhile become very quiet, and sweat covered her face.She stopped drinking and coughed heavily,'' said Mrs.Han Pil Nyo wiping tears from her cheek.''I just hope that she will be all right and she will be strong enough by the time I go back home.''
Mrs.Nyo was interviewed by UNICEF team in the South Hamgyong Pediatric Hospital while her daughter was fighting for her life and UNICEF emergency response team were there to monitor the implementation of the first phase of national measles campaign and to see first hand what was happening to the children in DPR of Korea.
'' I am so glad that at the end of this week all children in my country will be protected and none of them will need to undergo what the little Kim is going through right now'' said the doctor of pediatric hospital.
Thanks to immediate response from the government and UNICEF who mobilized resources and flew a consignment of measles vaccine to DPR Korea in 14 days after government declared a nationwide measles outbreak.Now all children were being vaccinated against measles.
A total of 6.3 million doses of measles vaccines are being distributed by the 49,000 section doctors nation wide.
Children are being brought by their parents or their school teachers to receive the lifelong protecting vaccine.
UNICEF, together with WHO and IFRC, will further support the government with the measles outbreak response and will continue until there are no more new cases in DPR Korea.