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10million Measles Vaccines Issued In Madagascar

Unicef Dispatches 10 Million Measles Vaccines Across Madagascar

In the largest immunization campaign ever undertaken in Madagascar, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today announced the delivery of 10 million measles vaccines to the country.

Over the past few days, trucks and planes loaded with measles vaccines, auto disable syringes, communication materials and manuals for mobilizers began leaving the capital and port cities of Antananarivo and Tamatave for every district in the country.

The vaccines and accompanying materials will be provided to 7.5 million children up to the age of 14 across the country from 13 September until 8 October through a strategy that targets schools, health centres and remote areas.

"One cannot underestimate the huge logistics involved in this operation," said UNICEF's Madagascar Representative Barbara Bentein, noting that the land mass concerned is equivalent to the combined size of France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. "However, unlike these countries, communication here is extremely difficult," she added. "Some remote areas do not even have electricity."

To overcome these daunting conditions, UNICEF is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Malagasy Government, as well as 45,000 workers, girl and boy scout organizations, religious groups and the army.

"This campaign has been planned from the bottom up," emphasized Jean-Louis Robinson, Madagascar's Minister of Health and Family Planning. "Planning started six months ago and we are pleased to have been able to bring health personnel from all 111 health districts to the capital to plan all technical, logistics, communication and social mobilization aspects of the operation," he added.

In 2000, measles caused nearly half of all the 1.7 million childhood vaccine preventable deaths around the world. In Madagascar, only half of all children are completely vaccinated. UNICEF's campaign aims to halt a potentially deadly measles epidemic there by vaccinating all Malagasy children between the ages of nine months and 14 years.

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