DR Congo

DRC: Second round of measles vaccinations under way in Ituri

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NAIROBI, 19 February (IRIN) - The second round of a massive measles vaccination campaign is under way in the embattled Ituri District of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
According to the international relief NGO, Medair, this second round has been extended to regions beyond the principal Ituri city of Bunia to include Lingo, Lengabo, Mwanga, Marabo and Badiya, thereby targeting an additional 20,000 children.

The first phase of the campaign took place from 23 to 30 January, and reached more than 100,000 children aged from six months to 15 years in Bunia and its immediate surrounds. Medair said the results of the first phase of the campaign had been "encouraging", as it had mobilised about 900 people, comprising doctors, nurses, drivers, and logisticians, to reach some 108,000 children in 233 sites.

The vaccination campaign was launched, following reports in December 2002 of more than 300 measles cases, resulting in the deaths of 16 children.

"The goal of this initiative, 'Vaccination for life', is to prevent an outright epidemic, and to protect children already weakened nutritionally and even socially in a forgotten crisis characterised by violence, widespread displacement of populations, as well as human rights violations and war crimes," Medair stated.

Financed by the EC's Humanitarian Aid Office, the vaccination campaign is being supported by local health authorities, the World Health Organisation and the UN Children's Fund.

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