Burundi officially adds second dose of measles vaccine to national schedule

Burundi officially introduced the second dose of the measles vaccine into its national immunization program during its recent 2013 mother-child health week.

The Burundian Ministry of Public Health and the Fight Against AIDS presided over the weeklong series of events held primarily for young children and pregnant women. Burundi was recently recognized by several international organizations for achieving a 94 percent coverage rate for measles. As a result, the small Central African nation has significantly reduced child morbidity and mortality.

Over the last few years, the government of Burundi has received support from the GAVI Alliance, as well as the United Nations Children's Fund, the Measles and Rubella Initiative, and the WHO. Regardless, Burundi continues to experience measles outbreaks, including several that have occurred over the past three years.

The WHO said that it expects the introduction of a second dose of the measles vaccine to bolster the protection of children against the illness, which can weaken the immune system and set the stage for subsequent infections. Vaccination has reduced mortality from the disease by 98 percent in Burundi since 2000. The WHO said that it expects Burundi to have received nearly $100 million in funding from the GAVI Alliance by 2016.