Congo

Congo: Immunisation coverage sees dramatic improvement

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BRAZZAVILLE, 25 May 2007 (IRIN) - Stronger cooperation between the Congolese government, UN agencies and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) has resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of children covered by the country's national immunisation programme, according to Koen Vanormelingen, the UN Children's Agency (UNICEF) resident representative in the central African state, said.

Vaccination coverage against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough rose from 40.51 percent in 2002 to 77.8 percent in 2006, and immunisation against measles from 37 percent to 64 percent.

Weaknesses, however, remain in some areas of the country, particularly in the northwestern administrative division of Pool, where the 1998-2003 civil war between the army and rebels destroyed health facilities.

Vaccination coverage in Pool against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough stood at 65 percent, while immunisation coverage against measles is estimated at 66.5 percent, according to a document associated with an appeal launched in 2006 by UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for US$28 million to alleviate the suffering of thousands of vulnerable people in 2007.

"The improvement has been possible thanks to the enlarged capacity of the vaccination programme and contributions from the government, which currently invests more than US$400,000 each year. It has also been possible thanks to the help of the World Health Organization (WHO), GAVI and UNICEF," said Vanormelingen.

GAVI is a public-private partnership aimed at increasing children's access to vaccines in poor countries. Partners include the GAVI Fund, national governments, UNICEF, WHO, The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the vaccine industry, public health institutions and NGOs.

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