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Over 74% of Madagascar children vaccinated against measles

WHO and UNICEF confident that target of 95 will be reached

Antananarivo, October 4th – More than two weeks into the nation’s largest ever vaccination campaign, WHO and UNICEF are confident that all the country’s 111 districts will be reporting a measles vaccination coverage of at least 95% -- the amount needed to prevent a potential measles epidemic in the country.

“As there are huge distances to cover in Madagascar (remember, it is the size of France, Belgium and Netherlands all in one), it is entirely understandable that we do not yet know the bigger picture” emphasized Barbara Bentein, UNICEF’s Representative to the country. “I know from personal visits to the north as well as supervision reports from my colleagues that vaccination teams have been doing an excellent job of reaching children. In fact, in one of the districts I visited, the church had been converted into a vaccination site.”

Madagascar’s measles campaign began on the 13th of September with an objective to vaccinate 7.6 million children between the ages of nine months and fourteen years in just over three weeks. The 50% mark was reached just one week after vaccination activities began in all of the nation’s public and private schools. According to results posted at the Ministry of Health, information to date is only available from 97 out of the country’s 111 districts. Out of these 97 districts:

· 28 out of 94 districts have sent in only partial information
 (only 40% of what is needed to accurately assess results)
· 10 districts report a vaccination coverage of 95%

 “I am confident that we will reach all the 7.6 million children targeted for the campaign, “said WHO Representative Andre Ndikuyeze, “However, we are still concerned that there may be pockets of children who are not yet immunized. That is why we also want all actors to double their efforts, particularly in this last week of the campaign” he added.

Measles accounted for some 350,000 cases in 2002. It is also the first cause of vaccine preventable death in the country. If Madagascar succeeds in reaching the target of 7.6 million children, it will be a step closer to eradicating the disease from the country forever.


For further information, please contact:
Misbah M. Sheikh, UNICEF Madagascar, tel 261-20 22 626 45/46, msheikh@unicef.org




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