Ministry of Health and United Nations launch national measles campaign targeting 7.5 million children under five
Da Nang, October 4th, 2010 -- “Good investment, strong political commitment, active involvement of the entire political system from central to local levels, high level of social involvement in immunization and disease prevention, plus a robust and capable health care system and community support are the preconditions for reversing perilous infectious diseases,” said Vice Minister of Health Mr. Trinh Quan Huan at the launching ceremony in Da Nang of the national measles supplementary vaccination campaign which is being organized by the Ministry of Health, with support from two United Nations (UN) agencies in Viet Nam, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The measles campaign targets 7.5 million children aged one through five. The aim is to ensure that by 2012 Viet Nam will eliminate measles across the country.
“For this campaign to be successful, no child should be missed. A missed child is an unprotected one who can infect others and perpetuate the chain of measles transmission. We should also remember that for these efforts to be successful, routine measles immunization coverage, with two doses of vaccine, should reach at least 95 per cent of the target population, and measles surveillance has to be fully operational with prompt laboratory investigations,” stressed Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative in Viet Nam.
The Government conducted the largest ever nationwide measles campaigns in 2002 and 2003 targeting all children up to 10 years of age. In selected mountainous districts, additional small-scale vaccinations campaigns were conducted in 2004 and 2007-2008 targeting the older age group of youth up to 20 years of age. These campaigns contributed to reducing the incidence of measles dramatically in Viet Nam.
However, in early 2009, the country experienced significant measles outbreaks - beginning with university students in the north just before the Tet holidays. Measles then spread all over the country, and this transmission has continued until now. To date nearly 30,000 suspected cases have been reported and nearly 10,000 have been confirmed through laboratory testing.
Viet Nam’s 2010 measles campaign started in mid-September and will continue until 30 November this year in all 63 provinces (690 districts and 11,074 communes) of the country, under the slogan “Vaccination for children is the best way to prevent children from measles – All children aged one to five in the whole country are objects of immunization in the 2010 Measles Vaccination Campaign Viet Nam 2010”. A series of activities have supported the preparation and implementation of the campaign, including training for health workers and distribution of communication material nationally.
Support provided by UNICEF, WHO and the UN Foundation includes the procurement of 8.1 million doses of measles vaccine, training of health workers, production of communication material and support to mobile teams operating in hard-to-reach areas. Measles is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted via the respiratory tract. It causes severe complications such as diarrhea, pneumonia, encephalitis and malnutrition. In order to break the transmission cycle, the immunity to measles must reach over 95 per cent of the target population.
Vice Minister Huan added that “To successfully implement the current campaign, guidance, financial support and investment in human resources by the Party committees, the authorities, relevant sectors and organizations are all essential. It also requires sound communication activities to urge parents, grandparents and the whole society to take children to immunization facilities. As for health facilities, there should be good, thorough preparation work, ensuring quality vaccines, immunization equipment and techniques.”
Globally, after many years of implementation of measles vaccination, the number of deaths due to measles fell by 78 per cent between 2000 and 2008. However, global immunization experts warn of a resurgence in measles deaths if vaccination efforts are not sustained. Measles is still one of the leading causes of death among children worldwide. Aiming at measles control and elimination, therefore, is essential for many regions and countries in the world, including Viet Nam.
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