Ethiopia vaccinates nearly 15m children against measles despite Covid-19 challenges
Johannesburg - Nearly 15 million children have been vaccinated against measles in Ethiopia in an effort by the health authorities to maintain essential health services, even as they battle to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
In a statement posted on its website on Monday, United Nations agency said the nationwide campaign which wrapped up at the weekend was conducted under the leadership of the Ethiopian health ministry with support from WHO, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance -- a public–private global health partnership that aims to increase access to immunisation in poor countries.
The vaccination campaign targeting children aged 9–59 months was initially scheduled for April but was suspended until this month due to the coronavirus pandemic. It ran for 10 days, with health workers observing Covid-19 safety rules.
Out of the target of 15 million children, the compaign attained 96 percent coverage, or 14.4 million children.
“By taking the appropriate measures, we can continue to provide essential services while striving to end this pandemic," WHO regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.
"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."
Fewer than 10 of the 47 countries in the WHO African region are on track to achieve the 2020 target of cutting new measles infections to fewer than one per one million population, and the Covid-19 crisis could set the region back even further.
Figures from the first quarter of this year show that 1.5 million more African children missed the first dose of measles vaccine compared with the same period last year.
In 2019, 4.5 million children were not vaccinated against measles, 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 the disease in 2018 in Africa, mostly children under the age of five.
African News Agency