- More than 7.3 million children in Madagascar have been vaccinated against measles in the past month, exceeding the expectations of the Malagasy and foreign campaigners. President Marc Ravalomanana today announced the campaign had been a great success, reaching 97.7 percent of all children in Madagascar.
President Ravalomanana and the Malagasy Minister of Health, Jean Louis Robinson, today announced the end of the national measles immunisation campaign. The leaders proudly announced that some 7,314,520 children - 97.7 percent of the 7.7 million targeted - had been vaccinated against measles.
- This is truly a momentous day for our country and most certainly for our children, declared Minister Robinson. "Most notably, this success underscores our enduring commitment for improving children's health and working to eliminate diseases that disable, debilitate and kill our young," he added.
The Minister did point out, however, that not all reports from the country's 111 districts were in yet and that his Ministry was still waiting for final figures from two of the most remote districts in the country. The figure could therefore increase further. While these figures will probably be in by tomorrow, this did not stop everyone involved in the measles effort to celebrate.
Before this campaign, some six out of ten children in Madagascar were un-immunised and therefore unprotected from some of the big vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, tetanus, diphtheria and pertusis. This is one of the main reasons why Madagascar's government decided to launch this campaign this year - both to reduce illness and death from this disease as well as to meet international commitments to eventually eradicate the disease.
The Malagasy national measles campaign, which began on 13 September, was made possible with the donor support of international partners such as UN's Children Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a large number of humanitarian organisations and numerous private and national companies, not to mention thousands of Malagasy community workers, volunteers, scouts, army personnel and religious groups.
- Given the incredible social mobilisation and multi-sectoral effort by hundreds and thousands of people, I am not surprised that Madagascar has done so well, commented UNICEF's country representative Barbara Bentein today. UNICEF had supplied the Ministry of Health with vaccines.
The WHO country representative Andre Ndikuyeze added that the project had brought Madagascar much closer towards eradicating an infectious disease that kills or debilitates thousands of its children every year. "The next step is now to strengthen routine surveillance to ensure that no more children die from measles," Mr Ndikuyeze said.
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