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Amidst political uncertainty, UNICEF supports yellow-fever immunization in Côte d’Ivoire

KATIOLA, Côte d’Ivoire, 31 January 2011 – Amidst a continuing political stalemate in Côte d’Ivoire, more than 800,000 people received life-saving injections against yellow fever last week. The mass immunization campaign was conducted in four health districts, with support from UNICEF, because 25 Ivorians have died from the disease since November.


25 January 2011: UNICEF's Jonah Fisher reports on a yellow-fever immunization campaign carried out amidst political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. Watch in RealPlayer

“We are extremely grateful to GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, for providing the yellow-fever vaccines, and to our partners, the World Health Organization, for working with UNICEF to make this critically important campaign possible,” said UNICEF Côte d’ Ivoire Officer-in-Charge Sylvie Dossou.

“This vaccination drive also shows the world that despite the political impasse in the country, life-saving humanitarian work continues to be done in Côte d’Ivoire, and that we are reaching the most vulnerable,” she added.

Distance from health centres
The four targeted districts are mostly rural – and in many rural communities, the long distance to the nearest health centre means that families often miss routine vaccination against yellow fever and other diseases. The recent campaign here allowed health authorities to reach those who had not been immunized and thereby halt the spread of an epidemic at its onset.

In Katiola, people lined up to get vaccinated and later received cards to prove that they had received the yellow-fever vaccine, which is effective for 10 years. Under normal circumstances, a vaccination team can immunize up to 1,200 people per day.

Public awareness
Uncertainty and insecurity have marked daily life for many Ivorians during the national crisis that has gripped the country since elections were held here in late November. Against this backdrop, a public-awareness effort was key to ensuring that residents of the target areas were informed about the immunization campaign and knew what they had to do in order to be protected.

“During a period of crisis, everything is complicated,” said the Prefect of Katiola, Souleymane Bamba. “That is why we have put the emphasis on public information, letting all the village chiefs and government officials know.”

By Jonah Fisher and Louis Vigneault-Dubois

 

 
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