News Note 2: Pacific Measles Outbreak
SUVA, 28 November 2019: UNICEF is supporting the Governments of Samoa, Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga to respond to the current measles outbreak in the Pacific region, together with the World Health Organisation (WHO), partners and with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).
Since 1 October 2019, UNICEF has delivered vaccines and essential medical supplies to Samoa, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Tokelau and Tuvalu. As of 28 November, almost 300,000 vaccines and medical supplies have been delivered to reach those populations most at-risk in these countries.
The Government of Samoa officially declared a state of emergency on 15 November 2019. UNICEF has delivered a total of 115,500 doses of measles vaccines to Samoa since 1 October, including the required diluent, syringes and safety boxes, as well as sufficient supplies of Vitamin A.
The national Measles Vaccination Campaign began on 20 November 2019 with mobile outreach vaccination sites and teams, and special vaccine booths. Since the launch of the campaign, the Ministry of Health has successfully vaccinated more than 33,500 individuals in both Upolu and Savai’i.
UNICEF has delivered six 42 sqm tents, which will be used as vaccination sites or isolation wards for patients with measles. Six specially designed refrigerators and three emergency trolleys will also be provided to the Ministry of Health, to ensure the cold chain is maintained and vaccines are effective when given at vaccination sites.
Fiji declared a measles outbreak on 7 November 2019. Since 1 October, UNICEF has delivered a total of 135,000 doses of measles vaccines with required diluent, syringes and safety boxes. An additional 200,000 vaccines are en route to Fiji.
Kingdom of Tonga:
A measles outbreak was also declared in the Kingdom of Tonga on 24 October 2019. Since 1 October, UNICEF has delivered a total of 12,000 measles vaccines including required diluent, syringes and safety boxes, to Tonga. Two refrigerators, for the vaccine cold chain, will also be provided along with an additional 6,000 doses of vaccines.
UNICEF and WHO have jointly prepared a communication toolkit and resources to be used for measles prevention, which has been shared with all Pacific Island governments, including Samoa, Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga. The toolkit is a regional resource, which countries can use and adapt to their country’s needs. It includes a range of communication products targeting three main audiences: travellers, general public and health workers.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.