THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Rwandan health minister lauds successful launch of measles and rubella vaccine

Rwandan health minister Agnès Binagwaho recently discussed her country's rollout of a new measles and rubella vaccine.

Binagwaho said the new vaccine is fundamental, not just for Rwanda's health, but also for the health of the entire world. She noted that for both measles and rubella, immunization is the only way to control the lethal viruses.

"Every night I go to bed knowing that the health of the children of Rwanda and of the world is better. This is what moves me forward every day," Binagwaho said. "This week, I am very proud, because Rwanda was the first country in Africa to introduce the conjugate measles and rubella vaccine, thanks to GAVI's support."

Rwanda, according to Binagwho, introduced the M-R vaccine over a period of only four days with the help of every city, village and public health stakeholder. She said healthcare workers, including nursing school students, worked almost around the clock to immunize nearly five million children.

Rwandan children less than five years old were immunized in health centers and school-aged children were administered the vaccine in their schools. Before distributing the M-R vaccine in this fashion, Rwanda tested the approach using the human papillomavirus vaccine and improved its cold storage chain.

"Our performance is remarkable," Binagwaho said. "Rwanda's DTP coverage rate is over 95%, seldom seen in Africa. These results are being achieved thanks to political will and the support of the people, not to mention support from our international partners and donors."