Ethiopia Launches Massive Measles Vaccination Campaign.

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Quickly responding to the rampant measles outbreaks, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, recently launched a comprehensive vaccination campaign across 58 impacted districts in Ethiopia. The initiative, which commenced on December 29, 2023, is expected to extend until mid-January 2024. The primary target of this health drive is over 2 million children aged between 6 months to 10 years.

 

Financial and Technical Support

The financial impetus for the campaign comes from the Measles and Rubella Initiative (MRI) via the WHO and UNICEF. This funding covers operational costs, vaccines, and essential supplies. In addition, the WHO has provided considerable technical assistance at both national and subnational levels. The aid spans preparation, planning, training, monitoring, and data management to ensure the campaign’s effectiveness and reach.

Geographical Distribution and Social Mobilization

The 58 districts selected for the mass immunization initiative are spread across eight regions: Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella, Oromia, Sidama, Somali, South Ethiopia, and Southwest Ethiopia Peoples’ region. Social mobilization efforts have been amplified, with the campaign’s launch attended by regional health bureau heads, religious leaders, and media representatives. Informational materials have been translated into local languages and disseminated via leaflets, banners, and audio channels. To maximize outreach, especially in densely populated and rural areas, public address systems and megaphones have been employed.

WHO reports reveal that low-income countries with the highest death risk from measles continue to have the lowest vaccination rates. Over half of the 22 million children missing their first measles vaccine dose live in ten countries, including Ethiopia. The US CDC has identified measles outbreaks in 47 countries, linked mostly to unvaccinated international travelers. The global spike in measles cases and deaths has led to large or disruptive outbreaks in 39 countries. A study assessing the potential impact of introducing the rubella-containing vaccine (RCV) on Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) incidence in five countries, including Ethiopia, suggests RCV introduction could prevent 86,000 to 535,000 CRS births and reduce disability-adjusted life years.

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