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Ethiopia vaccinates nearly 15 million children against measles

Friday July 31 2020
baby

A child receives an inoculation against measles during a past campaign. PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY | AFP

By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE

Ethiopia has concluded a nationwide vaccination campaign against measles for millions of children.

The World Health Organisation said the country managed to vaccinate 14.4 million children in an anti-Measles campaign that ran only for 10 days

The UN health agency said the large scale immunisation programme attained 96 percent coverage of the initial target.

"The total campaign’s target was 15 million children and it attained 14.4 million coverage showing that even with ongoing the Covid-19 pandemic countries can continue to carry out life-saving mass vaccinations," WHO said in a statement.

The vaccination campaign was conducted by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with international partners "in an effort by the health authorities to maintain essential health services, even as they battle to contain the Covid-19 pandemic," officials said.

“By taking the appropriate measures, we can continue to provide essential services while striving to end this pandemic. Millions of children are at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases and waiting for the end of Covid-19 to restart immunisation campaigns is a gamble we cannot afford,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said.

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The nationwide campaign was initially scheduled for April but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the WHO, health workers were given training before launch of the vaccination that targeted children aged between 9 to 59 months.

"Vaccinators were trained on the Covid-19 prevention measures, communities informed of the campaign and encouraged to turn up, and vaccination supplies as well as personal protective equipment and sanitizers were shipped"

Measles is a highly contagious disease and one of the leading causes of death among young children globally despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.

According to WHO, over 50,000 people, most children under the age of five died from measles in 2018 in the African Region.

It said fewer than 10 of the 47 countries in the WHO African Region are on track to achieve the 2020 measles elimination target of cutting new infections to fewer than one per 1 million population.

WHO cautions that Measles outbreaks remain a risk in all African countries where the routine immunisation coverage remains below 95 percent and where periodic supplemental immunisation campaigns have been delayed or do not achieve 95 percent coverage in all districts.

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