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Bangladesh to vaccinate 20 million children against measles

DHAKA, 13 February 2010 - Bangladesh will vaccinate more than 20 million children against measles during a two-week measles campaign starting tomorrow and ending on February 28, 2010. All children aged 9 months to less than 5 years will be given measles vaccine, while all children aged 0 to 5 years will be given two drops of polio vaccine.

More than 50,000 health staff, 600,000 volunteers and NGO workers have been mobilized in order to carry out the campaign. They will work in 120,000 vaccinations sites spread across the country. In each site, a vaccination team will be deployed consisting of two skilled vaccinators and three volunteers. 

Bangladesh conducted a major national measles campaign in 2005-2006. About 35 million children between ages of 9 months and 10 years were immunized. As a result, the number of measles outbreaks registered in 2006 was only 7 compared to 27 registered in the first two months of 2006 prior to the campaign. No measles outbreak was reported in 2007 and only one occurred respectively in 2008 and 2009.

However, 25 to 30 per cent of children in each birth cohort remain susceptible to measles. This is why the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare decided to conduct this measles campaign, with the objective to particularly target those children who were born after the last campaign in 2005-06. Children who had measles vaccines before or those who suffered from measles will also need to get the measles vaccine during this campaign as a second dose of vaccine is recommended to ensure that the child is fully immunized.

“Measles vaccination campaigns can significantly reduce morbidity and mortality among children,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Carel de Rooy. “It is unfortunate that measles continues to kill children when such avoidable deaths can easily be prevented through immunization. I call on all the parents to bring their children to the immunization sites so they will be protected against this child-killer disease."

In 2001, the World Health Organization and UNICEF adopted a joint strategic plan for global measles mortality reduction, which was endorsed by World Health Assembly in 2003. In Bangladesh, the objective of the national plan of action is to reduce measles mortality by 90 per cent by 2010 in comparison to 2000.

“Globally, measles remains the leading cause of vaccine-preventable childhood death and disability. Maintaining good immunization coverage and conducting periodic follow up campaigns reduces measles cases and deaths considerably.  Significant progress has already been made and must be sustained to achieve our objective and to ensure that the children of Bangladesh are vaccinated against this highly contagious viral disease”, said Dr. Duangvadee Sungkhobol, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Bangladesh.

To cover all the 20 million children across Bangladesh through this fortnight-long campaign, 23 million doses of measles vaccines, 29 million doses of polio vaccines, 23 million auto-disabled syringes, 2.3 million reconstitution syringes and 150,000 safety boxes have already been procured and distributed throughout the country. Every step has been taken to ensure full safety of injection through the use of disposable syringes and effective maintenance of the cold chain in order to keep the vaccines below +8 degrees Celsius.

The Measles Initiative
The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the Initiative—led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization—provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide.

For more information, please contact:
Christine Jaulmes, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Dhaka.
Tel + 8802 9335807 / + 8801713043478

Dr. Serguei Diorditsa, Team Leader IVD and Medical Officer,WHO Bangladesh
Tel + 8802 989 9540 / + 8802 881 3410




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