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Copy of Cote D’Ivoire gets emergency measles vaccination over Christmas

UNICEF and partners are vaccinating children against measles ahead of high-transmission season

© 2004/CoteDIvoire/Brez
Children wait for measles vaccination in Ivorian sub-prefecture of Prikro
ABIDJAN, 23 December 2004 – A measles vaccination campaign for some 20,000 children in the central Ivorian sub-prefecture of Prikro kicked off today and will continue through 26 December. 

Vaccination teams will work throughout the Christmas holiday period to ensure that all children from 6 months to 14 years of age are protected against the deadly measles virus. Children under five will also receive Vitamin A supplementation to boost their immune systems.

Emergency vaccinations became necessary in Prikro sub-prefecture following population movements, which resulted from violence and insecurity during the escalation of conflict between government forces and ex-rebels in November.  Prikro is located just outside the buffer zone, in government-controlled territory. 

A total of over 3,500 internally displaced people (IDPs), the majority of them children and women, are currently sheltered at various sites and with host families in the towns and surrounding villages of Prikro and M’bahiakro.  IDP representatives told UNICEF that they arrived with only the clothes on their backs, having traveled as far as 20 miles on foot for three days with nothing to eat.

In addition to its support for the emergency measles vaccination campaign in Prikro sub-prefecture, UNICEF has provided emergency materials to both the IDPs and their host communities, including essential drugs and medical supplies to ensure basic health care, impregnated mosquito nets to protect against malaria, water purification tablets, hygiene and sanitation products, recreational materials to help children cope with stress, feminine hygiene napkins, and non-food items including sleeping mats, blankets, plastic cups and plates, and jerry cans for the storage of safe water. 

The high transmission season for measles is just around the corner, beginning in February and lasting through June.  “There was no time to waste,” said Leonard Kouadio, UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire health officer. “ If a measles outbreak occurs, it will be too late, and many children could die. So we decided together with the local health authorities to work straight through the Christmas holidays. The community has also mobilized strongly behind the vaccinations, which is encouraging.”

UNICEF’s response in Prikro and M’bahiakro is part of an integrated humanitarian response coordinated with partners including the World Food Program, the ICRC, OCHA and local partners in favor of IDPs and their host communities.

On 26 December, measles vaccinations supported by the measles partnership will begin for a further 446,000 children in four ex-rebel-controlled western districts of Côte d’Ivoire (Biankouma, Mankono, Touba, Vavoua).  Health care structures in these zones still suffer from an acute shortage of qualified doctors and nurses.

The postponement of a national measles vaccination campaign scheduled for earlier this month has rendered these targeted emergency measles vaccinations necessary in zones where health care services, including routine vaccinations, have been all but wiped out by the ongoing crisis, and in zones with a high concentration of extremely vulnerable populations.

Fast Facts:

  • An estimated 500,000 people remain internally displaced in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Only an estimated 4 out of 10 children in Côte d’Ivoire currently benefit from routine vaccinations, including measles, tetanus, tuberculosis, and polio.
  • UNICEF has to date supported the vaccination of over 1.5 million children against measles in Côte d’Ivoire since April of 2003.
  • The above-mentioned vaccination activities will bring the total number of children vaccinated against measles in Côte d’Ivoire through UNICEF support since April of 2003 to over 2 million.

For further information, please contact:
Jeff BREZ, UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire, Tel : +225-2020-8176 / Cell : +225-05853118, jabrez@unicef.org




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