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Bangladesh Measles Campaign reaches 98 per cent of targeted children

DHAKA, 10 October 2005 - Phase one of the recently completed National Measles Vaccination campaign in Bangladesh successfully reached 98 per cent of the target population aged between nine months and ten years of age.

UNICEF and partners vaccinated 1.3 million children during three-weeks in September in the Bogra and Rajshai districts.

More than 15,000 volunteers and 1,600 health workers provided vaccination services at more than 4500 centers set up in the two districts.

“This is a great effort on behalf of UNICEF and partners including the Government, WHO and the American Red Cross. This first phase was just a precursor to next year’s big push to vaccinate more than 33 million children,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative, Louis-Georges Arsenault.

The Government of Bangladesh has just announced that the second and larger phase of the National Campaign will take place between 25th February – March 16th 2006. It is estimated that this will be the biggest measles vaccination campaign in the world.

The second phase hopes to reach 33.5 million children nationwide and it will require more than 300,000 volunteers. UNICEF will be responsible for providing all vaccines and syringes.

"Measles can be deadly to children and infants, especially is contracted during times of crisis, such as the recent earthquake in Pakistan," said Arsenault. "Immunization provides an essential protection for those periods when Mother Nature turns lives upside down."

Routine immunization protects 69 per cent of Bangladeshi children from measles, but 30 per cent still remain unprotected from one of the  most contagious diseases that kills thousands of children every year. This campaign will give all of Bangladesh’s children a second opportunity to be protected and will also protect children who failed to receive a previous dose of measles vaccine.

“The planning that goes into a campaign of this size is staggering,” said Arsenault. “The process of training volunteers and health workers begins next month, a full five months before the start of the next phase.”

The Government of Bangladesh has endorsed a National Plan of Action 2004-1010 to address mortality among children due to measles.

For more information, please contact:
Rezwan-ul-Alam, UNICEF Bangladesh, Tel: 9336701/392, 0171 595045




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