Vaccination week starts in Egypt, eradicating measles

Ingy Deif, Wednesday 24 Apr 2013

World Health Organisation (WHO) and Egyptian health ministry rank the eradication of measles as a top priority in Egypt's annual immunization week, starting 24-30 April

vaccination photo: Reuters

The Egyptian Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the fourth annual vaccination week in the Eastern Mediterranean region after the notable success of three previous immunisation initiatives for children worldwide.

The vaccination week runs from 24-30 April and will witness the participation of many countries in the region.

The regional immunisation week coincides with an initiative by the WHO to raise awareness and increase vaccination uptake in children.

This year the campaign will aim at fighting the measles, a disease posing a health hazard that can be easily evaded by giving children the vaccine in a timely manner.

Almost a decade ago, the MMR vaccine was allegedly linked to autism. Although the allegation was proven to be untrue, a decline in receiving the vaccine prompted an increase in measles cases.

According to the WHO, the disease is transmitted through the liquids in the throat, mouth, and nose.

The symptoms start after almost ten days from the infection and are as follows:
• Runny nose
• High temperature
• A red colour in the eyes
• A rash of white spots inside the mouth, followed days later by a rash that spreads from the face to the rest of the body

WHO Regional Director Dr. Alaa Alwan stressed, at the launching celebration on 22 April at the National Training Institute, the problem with the measles is that it is extremely contagious

Despite the affordable cost of immunisation and the fact that it is available and safe, it is still responsible for the fatalities of 185,000 people each year, he added.

According to Minister of Health and Population Dr. Mohamed Mostafa Hamed, the Egyptian government continues to provide all means to eradicate the disease from Egypt in its entirety by the year 2015, stressing that measles cases have been declining significantly in the previous years.

Since 1999, nine obligatory vaccinations are given to children in Egypt, one of which is to prevent the measles, the minister said.

This week Egyptians will witness seminars, awareness campaigns, and workshops in many parts of the country. It will also help to facilitate the access to vaccinations to people, Hamed added.

Dr. Ibrahim Moussa stressed that many facilities in various Egyptian governorates will be constructed specifically to provide citizens with easy access to the measles vaccine in the efforts to reach the government's 2015 target.

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