Using UN vaccines Madagascar begins immunizing 76 million against measles

Volunteers from all walks of life, from traditional chiefs to scout group members to army officers, will take part in the scheme to combat measles, a persistent killer of children in the impoverished African nation.All children aged between nine months and 14 years will be vaccinated, with all children also receiving de-worming tablets and those aged below five given Vitamin A capsules.More than 7,000 vaccinators and at least 15,000 community mobilizers have been recruited to carry out the immunization scheme, which will start in schools and crèches before moving on to health centres and eventually going door-to-door.At a ceremony yesterday in the port city of Tamatave, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Monique van de Ven, a famous film actress in the Netherlands, helped launch the 25-day vaccination scheme with Madagascar’s President Mark Ravalomanana.In 2002 there were an estimated 350,000 measles cases across the country, where the risks of epidemic are high because two out of every five children are not completely immunized.UNICEF Madagascar Representative Barbara Bentein said the agency had started preparing for the vaccination scheme six months ago.”The way in which this campaign has succeeded in bringing together thousands of people, young and old, men and women, girls and boys, religious and traditional to join together in the largest mass mobilization effort ever is no less than extraordinary,” she said. read more