Lao PDR receives over 650,000 doses of measles and rubella vaccine with support from Gavi

26 February 2024
A mother and holding her child while he gets vaccinated against mesales during a vaccination session as part of the National Lao Measles Vaccination Campaign in November 2007.
UNICEF Lao PDR/2007/JHolmes

Vientiane Capital, 26 February 2024 – The Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) has received over 650,000 doses of measles and rubella (MR) vaccine to help protect and prevent the spread of the two childhood illnesses, as part of Gavi’s support to the country’s routine immunization efforts.

The donation by Gavi, targeting over 600,000 children aged under 5, comes at a time when measles cases are on the rise globally due to low vaccination rates with children from hard-to-reach communities, who face multiple deprivations and vulnerabilities, at greatest risk.

Increasing measles vaccination rates is particularly important at a time when cases and deaths are increasing worldwide. The disease spreads rapidly among people who are not immune and can lead to serious illness and death, with children under the age of 5 years most at risk.

The MR vaccine, provided free of charge, will be administered by the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other development partners.

“The Government of Lao PDR highly values this kind support from Gavi. The donated vaccines will help save children’s lives,” said Dr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director General of Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, Ministry of Health. “In the post-COVID-19 landscape, it is vital that we focus on improving rates of routine immunization to ensure that all children in Lao PDR are healthy and protected against deadly diseases.”, he added. Dr. Phonepaseuth also acknowledged the valuable support of partners like UNICEF and WHO, among others, to Lao PDR’s routine immunization programme and services.

Nadia Lasri, Senior Country Manager and Coordinator of Gavi support in Lao PDR, said: “Gavi support to conduct this nationwide measles-rubella preventive vaccination campaign is supplementary to our long-standing assistance to the Government of Lao PDR to strengthen its routine immunization programme. It is crucial for safeguarding children's health, especially in hard-to-reach communities.”

The UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR, Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, also reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to the rights of children in Lao PDR, including access to immunization. She praised the commitment and dedication of health care workers and village health volunteers across the country. “While we have collectively made progress in streamlining immunisation services in Lao, the country’s children face yet another threat from two vaccine-preventable diseases: measles and rubella, which is reason for the upcoming nationwide vaccination campaign.” She also urged parents and caregivers to take their children to the nearest vaccination centre to receive these life-saving vaccines.

“Measles and rubella are devastating diseases. Recent measles outbreaks in other countries have seen unvaccinated children die in tragic numbers. Catching rubella during pregnancy can cause the loss of the child or lead to a child born with lifelong disabilities. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways of improving the health and wellbeing of children and their families, and the WHO, alongside our partners, is proud to be supporting the Lao government vaccination efforts, including with the new measles and rubella vaccine donation,” said WHO Representative to Lao PDR Dr. Ying Ru Lo.

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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