Mozambique seeks to reduce measles deaths

2011-05-23 12:00

Marracuene - Mozambique plans to vaccinate 3.6 million children against measles over the next five days in a bid to reduce deaths by 98% by the end of 2012, a UN Foundation official said on Sunday.

This will bring the southern African country closer to a World Health Organisation (WHO) goal signed by 46 sub-Saharan countries to reduce measles deaths by 98%.

"This campaign has put Mozambique in a position to be the first sub-Saharan African country to reach the 2012 goal," said Andrea Gay, executive director for children's health at the UN Foundation.

Health officials across the country will vaccinate children under five years from Monday to Friday in a $4.5m campaign.

Representatives of the WHO, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and former US senator Bob Bennett inspected preparations at the Marracuene district hospital outside the Mozambican capital Maputo before the start of the campaign.

One of the world's poorest countries, Mozambique has improved measles immunisation to cover 74.1% of the population.

"On a global scale we can eradicate measles by 2020," said Gay.

Increased vaccination campaigns in Mozambique helped reduce the number of infections an outbreak in 2010, according to a statement by UNICEF and WHO.

The country recorded 434 cases, down from 197 000 cases in 2007.

"It is very rare for doctors to find cases of measles in Mozambique nowadays", Health Minister Paulo Ivo Garridohe told state news agency AIM.

The country of 22.1 million people is prone to flooding and access to medical care is limited.