Need for vaccines increases in Ebola-stricken countries
Approximately 24,000 people in western Africa have been infected by Ebola, with 10,000 of them dying. Due to limited resources, the areas impacted by the Ebola outbreak -- mainly Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone -- have reduced their vaccination activities as health professionals in those regions concentrate on treating Ebola patients.
The latest "Guidance for Immunization Programmes in the African Region in the Context of Ebola" will assist countries in maintaining their vaccination routines while controlling the risks to health workers. The report also says countries that have not been affected by Ebola must keep up their regular vaccination activities.
“This focus on vaccinations and malaria is part of WHO’s efforts to support countries in early recovery, including infection prevention and control in non-Ebola health care settings, strengthening of the health workforce, disease surveillance and safe essential health services, " WHO director of service delivery and safety Edward Kelley said.
The report warns that any disruption of immunization services, even for short periods, will result in an increase in the number of susceptible individuals and increase the likelihood of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.
“We are calling for the intensification of routine immunization services in all areas, and for mass measles vaccination campaigns in areas that are free of Ebola transmission,” WHO director of immunizations, vaccines and biologicals Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele said.