Ethiopia vaccinates 15 mln children against measles despite COVID-19 challenges: WHO

Addis Ababa, The World Health Organization (WHO) disclosed on Monday that nearly 15 million children have been vaccinated against measles in Ethiopia in ten days, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

In its press release the WHO said that the vaccination campaign has been conducted in an effort by the health authorities to maintain essential health services, even as they battle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign’s target was 15 million children and it attained 14.4 million coverage showing that even with ongoing COVID-19 pandemic countries can continue to carry out life-saving mass vaccinations, according to the UN health agency.

“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 immunization campaigns is a gamble we cannot afford,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said.

The nationwide campaign which wrapped up this weekend ran for 10 days that is longer than similar past campaigns to limit crowding and risks of COVID-19 infections.

According to the WHO, ahead of the immunization drive targeting children aged 9–59 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.

The campaign was conducted under the leadership of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health with support from the WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the press release stated.

The vaccination campaign in Ethiopia was initially scheduled for April but was suspended due to the pandemic and resumed in July.

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.

An estimated 52 600 people died from measles in 2018 in the African Region, mostly children under the age of five.

It highlighted 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.

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

 

Source: Ethiopia News Agency