10 September 2012: National measles campaign launched
GRZ, WHO & UNICEF JOINT PRESS RELEASELUSAKA, Zambia, 10 September 2012 – The Government of the Republic of Zambia will hold a national measles vaccination campaign from 10-15 September. The goal is to reach an estimated 6.5 million children aged 6 months to 15 years.
The campaign, led by the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health and the Ministry of Health, provides a second opportunity for children to receive the measles vaccination so that they are protected against the deadly disease. In 2010 the country held a measles campaign for children aged from 9 months to four years but with new outbreaks the Government, with the technical support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners, has mobilized resources to immunize a larger age group.
“It is therefore imperative that even children who were vaccinated against measles in 2010 as well as those who have received the vaccine through the routing programme need to and should receive a vaccine during next week’s campaign,” said the Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Dr. Joseph Katema, MP. He noted that measles remains a significant threat to the health of children in Zambia, especially those aged below five years. Dr. Katema added that the only way to protect children from measles is to ensure that every child is immunized.
“Zambia is committed to providing routine immunization to all its infants to prevent diseases such as measles. We are determined to increase support for immunization efforts beyond current efforts in order to reach children with lifesaving vaccines and improve the health, development and survival of our children and attainment of Millennium Development Goals,” said Dr. Katema.
According to UNICEF Zambia Officer-in-Charge Shaya Asindua, immunization is key to improving the health and welfare of children. “Children are the future and we should all ensure their survival. UNICEF commends the Zambian Government for progress in the immunization programme which has resulted in a reduction in under-five mortality. We will continue to devote substantial efforts towards survival and development of young children through supporting advocacy, programme design, national leadership and public engagement,” said Ms. Asindua.
“This vaccination campaign offers a unique opportunity to protect Zambian children against measles. It is likely to contribute significantly to further reductions in infant and under-five morbidity and mortality rates and towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goal number 4 which aims to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015,” said WHO Representative Dr. Olusegun Babaniyi.
During the 2012 campaign, the Government forecasts that 6,438,799 children agreed between 6 months to 15 years will receive the measles vaccine, 1,501,440 children aged 0 to 59 months will also receive a supplemental polio vaccine in 30 high-risk districts. A total of 2,728,295 children countrywide in the same age group will also be given Vitamin A, which strengthens the immune system and prevents blindness, while 2,155,444 children aged 12-59 months will receive deworming tablets.
UNICEF, WHO, and USAID are providing technical and financial support towards the National Measles Campaign. Major financial support has been provided by the Measles and Rubella Initiative (MRI) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).
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