CONAKRY, Guinea/DAKAR, Senegal, 11 February 2014 – As the death toll and the number of suspected cases of measles continue to rise in Guinea, UNICEF and the Government of Guinea have kicked off a massive emergency campaign to vaccinate over 1.7 million children in an effort to stop the spread of measles throughout the country.
Over the past two weeks, the UNICEF team and partners have been racing against time to provide and transport over 2 million doses of vaccines, needles, and other items in Guinea as well as logistical support, vehicles, and personnel to the Ministry of Health.
“In Guinea where three out of five children are not fully vaccinated, measles can have a devastating impact as it spreads quickly and kills children,” said UNICEF Representative in Guinea Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya at the launch of the campaign. “UNICEF has worked quickly to provide expertise, vaccines and other materials and stands ready to support the Government in any way we can.”
Yesterday, the Ministry of Health announced that there are over 1300 new suspected cases and five child deaths since the beginning of 2014.
The campaign started in the capital city of Conakry and, during the next two weeks, will roll out to affected communities throughout the country, including Boffa, Boké, Coyah, Dubréka, Forecariah, Fria, Kissidougou, Lelouma, Mandiana, and Mamou.
“Over 1.7 million children need to be vaccinated immediately, so this campaign, a massive logistical operation, must be rolled out very fast,” said Dr Ayoya. “With the Government and other humanitarian actors, we are aiming to reach as many children as we can.”
Other partners such as the World Health Organization and international NGOs are contributing significantly to the vaccination campaign efforts to ensure that the maximum number of children are vaccinated.
“Vaccinations are very important,” said Kadiatou Bah, a mother who brought her children to a vaccination site. “They work well. I am very happy because now my children won’t get sick.”
UNICEF is also providing the Ministry of Health with antibiotics and Vitamin A to treat those already infected.
The Ministry of Health is urging parents, guardians, and babysitters to bring all children aged 6 months to 10 years, whether previously vaccinated or not, to health centres or vaccination sites from 8 to 22 February 2014 for protection against measles.
Note to editors:
Measles is among the world’s most contagious diseases, and can cause severe complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and encephalitis, among others, and death. It spreads easily through coughing, and sneezing.
According to WHO, measles symptoms include: high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth or if a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck, and gradually spreading downwards. Parents are urged to seek immediate medical attention for their children if they notice any of these symptoms.
To keep up-to-date with this vaccination campaign, follow us on Twitter: @unicefguinea.
B-roll and photos available upon media request.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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