CONAKRY, 8 November 2003 - UNICEF Guinea, working in close cooperation with WHO and the Ministry of Health, is launching a nationwide measles vaccination campaign targeting all children in the countryside between the ages of 6 months and 14 years old. The aim of the campaign is to reduce the incidence of death from measles to zero in Guinea. Worldwide, this campaign aims to eliminate measles for good.
Every year, measles kills around one million children in the world, half of these in West and Central Africa. It is a very contagious disease that affects the young with 80-90 per cent of cases among the under 15 years olds. It is particularly dangerous for the youngest with 1 in 5 of children aged under-five that contract the disease dying from it.
Guinea is a measles high-risk country partly as a result of the movement of many refugees, many in poor physical and mental condition, into the country from the recent conflicts in neighbouring Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leonne. The problems are compounded by the limited reach of the health infrastructure, which has become almost overwhelmed by the demands on it and the need for vaccinations.
The campaign, which will run from 9 to 15 November, will vaccinate 3,500,000 children and administer 1,600,000 Vitamin A supplements to the children aged under five. This campaign complements that of last year when all 800,000 children of the capital city Conakry were vaccinated. By the middle of November every child in Guinea will have received this vital vaccination and the boost of the Vitamin A capsules for the younger ones.
Over the last two years, since UNICEF/WHO began the campaign to vaccinate all children in Guinea there has been a noted decrease in incidence of the disease down from 11,294 cases in 2000 to 2,151 cases in 2002.
The partners in this campaign are Minister of Health in Guinea, UNICEF, WHO, Helen Keller International, USAID, Red Cross, CDC/Atlanta and BASICS.
The Logistics of a National Campaign
USD 2.7 million is the UNICEF/WHO joint budget for the campaign.
69,000 health agents and volunteers grouped into 2,600 teams will administer the vaccines.
15,000 leaders and social organisers and 650 supervisors have been mobilised.
220 vehicles, 2000 motorbikes are ready.
3.5 million doses of the anti measles vaccine are in place in Guinea.
1.6 million capsules of Vitamin A are ready.
3.6 million syringes are ready.
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For further information contact:
John Brittain, UNICEF Guinea,
Tel +224 228 746