MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

UNICEF organizes measles vaccination campaign in Guinea

UNICEF announced on Tuesday that it is helping to organize a measles vaccination campaign to stop an outbreak in Guinea where there were 37 confirmed cases among children since November.

UNICEF and its partners will seek to vaccinate more than 1.6 million children against the disease. In the past few weeks, the number of measles cases in Guinea's capital Conakry rose sharply and resulted in the death of one child.

Guinea's Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene officially declared an outbreak in three Conakry municipalities. The disease was also reported in other parts of the country, primarily in the Boké, Coyah, Dubreka, Kissidougou and Mandiana prefectures.

"We are very concerned about this outbreak," Mohamed Ayoya, the UNICEF representative in Guinea, said. "Measles is highly contagious and extremely dangerous-especially for young, malnourished children. As we've already seen, it can be fatal. In a densely populated city like Conakry, disease spreads quickly."

UNICEF will work with the government of Guinea, the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières to coordinate mechanisms to contain the outbreak. The vaccination phase of the campaign will start in the coming weeks when vaccines, supplies and funding become available.

"There is no time to waste," Felix Ackebo, the deputy representative for UNICEF, said. "We need to move faster than the disease. Because measles takes up to 12 days to reveal its symptoms, it is possible that the disease has spread further into the country. All children who are still not immunized are at risk. Therefore, an outbreak immunization campaign is required as soon as possible."

UNICEF and its partners are seeking funding to replenish the stocks of vaccines required for the campaign. The organizations also need funding for additional medicines to treat individuals already infected.