AusAID provides funds for measles outbreak response campaign in Timor-Leste
Dili, Timor-Leste, 06 May 2011- AusAID signed an agreement to fund US$865,855 through UNICEF to support the measles control outbreak response campaign of Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Health. The agreement was signed by Ali Gillies, Minister Counsellor, AusAID and UNICEF Representative Jun Kukita with Vice Minister of Health Madalena Hanjam Costa Soares as witness.
A measles outbreak has been reported by the health ministry with already a total of 256 cases from two of the 13 districts of Timor-Leste, Dili and Ermera. Most of those reported measles cases were below 14 years of age. The number is particularly significant since the overall measles immunization rate is low at 68% and even lower for older cohort of children.
The situation requires a nationwide immunization campaign to prevent the spread of measles which have significant impact on the morbidity and mortality of Timorese children.
AusAID funds will be used to help immunize an estimated 495,000 children from 6 months to 14 years across the country which is about 43 per cent of the total population of Timor-Leste. Vitamin A will also be provided to help protect children from possible complications of measles such as diarrhea, pneumonia and eye infections. Funds will also cover the nationwide campaign to encourage parents to have their children immunized against measles.
UNICEF and WHO with other partners are assisting the Ministry of Health in its emergency responses to the measles outbreak with treatment of complications like pneumonia and diarrhea along with Vitamin A supplementation for all children already affected by measles.
“It is important that all parents will have their 6 month to 14 years old children immunized against measles to protect them from life-threatening consequences of measles,” UNICEF Representative Jun Kukita said. “This is particularly important because more than half of Timorese children under 5 years of age suffer from under nutrition which makes them particularly susceptible to measles and its complications. I am very thankful that AusAID has immediately responded to the emergency situation to protect children of Timor-Leste.”