Government of Lao PDR and Partners Announce Campaign to tackle Measles and Rubella

The campaign aims to prevent the spread of the two childhood diseases, measles and rubella, in Lao PDR.

25 April 2024
A nurse vaccinating a child at a district hospital in Vientiane. The child is being held by his mother.
UNICEF Lao PDR/2023/AKarki

Vientiane Capital, 25 April 2024 – In a major effort to protect children's health, the Lao PDR Ministry of Health announced a nationwide measles and rubella vaccination campaign today. This critical initiative coincides with World Immunization Week 2024, highlighting the importance of vaccines in safeguarding children's lives.

The campaign, which rolls out across Lao PDR from 20-31 May and supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Government of Australia, UNICEF and WHO, aims to prevent the spread of the two childhood diseases, measles and rubella, in Lao PDR. The campaign is especially timely as measles and rubella cases are on the rise globally due to low vaccination rates among children.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the immense contribution of all stakeholders to Lao PDR’s immunization efforts for children, including this campaign,” said H.E. Dr. Snong Thongsna, Vice Minister of Health of Lao PDR, during the press conference. “The launch of this new campaign comes shortly after World Immunization Week 2024 and is expected to provide protection to more than half a million children under five years. The measles and rubella vaccine will be provided free of charge under the administration of the Ministry of Health at all health centres throughout Lao PDR.”

"Vaccines are a remarkable human success story," said Nadia Lasri, Senior Country Manager and Coordinator of Gavi support in Lao PDR. "Over many decades, billions of children have been protected against life-threatening diseases. However, as the rising number of measles and rubella cases worldwide shows, some children are still missing out. Our current campaign must prioritize reaching all children, especially those who haven't received a single dose of a measles-containing vaccine. We must continue to invest in ensuring the most vulnerable and hard-to-access communities are not left behind."

“Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect our children from serious illness caused by measles and rubella and to improve their health and well-being", said Dan Heldon, Charge d’affaires, Australian Embassy. “The measles and rubella vaccine are effective and has been used for several decades worldwide. It’s important that children receive this life saving vaccine at their recommended ages.”

Dr Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR, reaffirmed UNICEF’s unwavering commitment to the health of Lao children and the expansion of their access to life-saving immunizations. “"In this moment, as we confront a resurgence of diseases we once had on the run, our shared commitment to global health through collaboration and trust in science has never been more vital. Let's ensure no child is left behind, because our actions today will define the health and prosperity of future generations."

Dr. Timothy Armstrong, Acting WHO Representative to Lao PDR, also praised the commitment and dedication of health workers and volunteers in driving national immunization efforts. 

“Improving measles and rubella vaccination rates in Lao PDR is critical if we are to avoid the deadly measles outbreaks experienced by other countries,” he said. “That is why during 20 - 31 May, health workers and volunteers will mobilize throughout the country, from city centers to the most remote areas, to make this safe and effective vaccine available to children nationwide. Trained vaccinators will travel long distances, including by boat, motorbike, and four-wheel drive cars. We are proud to be supporting their efforts, and to be working alongside the Ministry of Health, our sister agency UNICEF, and our partners in this major initiative.”

All vaccines in Lao PDR have been approved by WHO and the Ministry of Health and are proven safe and effective in protecting children from severe illnesses and life-threatening diseases.

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